REMEMBERING MOHAJIR SELVARAJ SATANAM
REMEMBERING MOHAJIR SELVARAJ SATANAM
9 December 1970 – 11 April 2020
The Universal House of Justice was saddened to learn from your email letters of 11 and 12 April 2020 of the untimely passing of one of your members Mohajir Selvaraj Satanam, faithful follower of the Blessed Beauty. His manifold services, including as a member of the Auxiliary Boards in Vietnam and of the National Spiritual Assemblies of Singapore and Thailand, are remembered with warm appreciation. May the memory of his endeavours to serve the Faith of God be a source of inspiration to all those who knew him. Kindly convey to his family members the loving condolences of the House of Justice for the loss they have suffered and assure them of its heartfelt supplications in the Holy Shrines for the progress of his illumined soul in the realms beyond and for the comfort and solace of their hearts.
– The Universal House of Justice to the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Malaysia dated 14 April 2020
This is a story of Mohajir Selvaraj Satanam, a faithful servant of Bahá’u’lláh who has left behind an indelible record of service rendered with utmost love, sincere devotion and undying zeal for this Supreme Cause. In attempting to write the story of Mohajir who was transplanted into the next world at a relatively young age, I am drawn to make reference to a weighty statement that Abdul-Bahá made when visiting the resting place of Thornton Chase, whom He called the first believer of America:
“…The purpose of life is to get certain results; that is, the life of man must bring forth certain fruitage. It does not depend upon the length of life. As soon as the life is crowned with fruition then it is completed, although that person may have had a short life. There are certain trees which come to fruition very quickly, but there are other trees which attain to fruition very late; the aim is fruit. If the tree brings forth its fruit young, its life is short; it is praiseworthy. How regretful it is that a man may live a long life and yet his life may not be crowned with success like unto the cypress tree which does not give any fruitage …” – Star of the West, 4 November 1912, p.4
A budding spiritual giant.
Mohajir’s parents, Mr. Satanam (whose life story is also featured in this blog) and Mrs. Indra Devi had a very strong influence on Mohajir’s Bahá’í upbringing. The parents ensured that their children, Mohajir along with his older brother Selvam and younger sister Lua were enveloped in the Bahá’í way of life. They created a Baháʼí environment at home, with prayers, telling of Bahá’í stories, sending them for children classes and Baháʼí conferences without fail. Satanam wanted his children to develop boundless love for Bahá’u’lláh, for which he taught them his own favorite song, “Will You give your life for Baháʼu’lláh.” When Mohajir was just 8 years old, he attended the Regional Institute for Baháʼí Children held at Port Dickson, in August 1978. That was one of the events that led many Bahá’í children to rise to heights of service in the later days.
Growing up in the Port Dickson community, 1974. First row L-R: Selvam, Indra Devi Satanam, S. Satanam, Maniam, Rajaratnan, Arul Sivanathan,(unknown) and Mohajir Satanam. Standing back row at the extreme left is Manimaran, with Seetharaman next to him. Standing in the middle is Siah Boon Hee. At the extreme right is Ringo.
Mohajir shone well both in the academic field and as a Baháʼí youth. In 1981 he scored 5 As in the standard five government assessment examinations, the highest one could achieve. In 1982 he was the deputy head prefect of his school, St. Paul’s Institution in Seremban, and a school football player. With sports running in the veins of the family, Mohajir was a die-hard supporter of Liverpool Football Club. Mohajir’s academic excellence and active involvement in sports activities assisted in earning him the prestigious ASEAN Scholarship that enabled him to pursue his education for his GCE “O” levels in the renowned Raffles Institution in Singapore from 1983 to 1986 where Mohajir rose up as a prefect, school hockey captain, and rugby player. After passing his “A” levels at the Hwa Chong Junior College where he studied from 1987 to 1988, Mohajir returned to Malaysia in 1989 and pursued his accountancy qualification with the Systematic College in Kuala Lumpur and later went to the Emile Woolf College of Accountancy in London and completed his Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) in 1992. Desiring to improve further his academic profile, he would later from 2001 to 2003 take up Masters in Business Administration at the Heriott Watt University, Edinburg, Scotland where he passed with distinction. He rose up in his career to hold the prestigious position of Country Head for Malaysia for a Swiss company called Syngenta. Despite having risen to such a high position in his career, deep in his heart Mohajir was more resigned to be a mere servant to serve the Cause of Baháʼu’lláh. While Mohajir developed an impressive academic record, he desired to see his close friends do equally well in their own studies. In the 1990s he took time from his busy schedule and gave free coaching to several of his friends in Seremban in their studies, and they all passed their examinations.
With his father S. Satanam upon graduation
Father and son playing badminton in Seremban.
Receiving a trophy from the Chief Minister of Negeri Sembilan state after competing in a marathon competition.
A 1989 family photo, probably the only one with exclusively with all the five family members together. L-R: Mohajir, Lua Sharmini, Selvam, S. Satanam, and Madam Indra Devi.
One of the cherished desires of Mohajir, since he was a youth, was to travel teach in the interiors of the jungles in the state of Sarawak. His love for the tribal people and their spiritual, educational, and social development was close to his heart. Mohajir had made at least two trips to the jungles of Sarawak, of which the first trip has many stories to tell, as recounted by his close friend Murali Subbarao who traveled with him on this trip. In the first three-month trip undertaken in 1990 Mohajir and Murali Subbarao traveled from Kuching to Miri towns, visiting several longhouses in the interiors during this journey. It was on this trip that Murali realized the unshakable faith Mohajir had in Baháʼu’lláh. There was an incident when the boat in which Mohajir, Murali, and Edward, a local Iban tribal youth were traveling capsized. They almost drowned but miraculously escaped death. Compounded with that they faced many challenges, some quite unbearable. Murali suggested to Mohajir that they should return to West Malaysia, but Mohajir replied in such a forceful tone assuring him that the divine guidance and protection were always with them, and gave Murali the strength and motivation to continue serving. On another occasion, Mohajir was suffering from severe food poisoning, and was continuous vomiting and stricken with diarrhea. Murali was very concerned but Mohajir assured the worried Murali, “Do not worry brother, we are under the watchful eyes of Baháʼu’lláh. Just have faith and keep praying.” When Murali saw Mohajir’s health deteriorating further in the jungles where access to doctors was not available, he urged Mohajir to wrap up and return. But Mohajir’s firm answer was still a clear “No,’’ and insisted on completing their three-month mission. At one longhouse some Iban friends gave jungle herbs and administered traditional treatment that saved Mohajir’s life. But Mohajir had become very weak. On this insistence of Murali, Mohajir followed him to Miri town where they stayed a few days in the houses of Mr. Manogaran and Mr. Dorai. Upon slightly recovering, Mohajir pressed on to Ulu Tatau, their next village in their plan. Of this experience with Mohajir in Sarawak, Murali has this to say, “Until today I am yet to come across anyone so determined and with so much faith in Baháʼu’lláh.”
Children class in Sarawak
Conference with Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum in Thailand in 1987: L-R : Nimia, Lena Tan, Selvam Satanam, Kueh Fah Lee, Mohajir Satanam, Seow Gaik Ching and Murray Samuel with Amatu’l-Bahá seated
Mohajir displayed sterling leadership qualities from his young age. In 1988, the youths of Seremban wanted to attend the Regional Youth Conference in Singapore. Mohajir and his elder brother Selvam got together and spearheaded the organization of this trip. They all stayed in the Bahá’í Centre in Cooling Close, Serangoon Garden. It was during this trip that Mohajir was given the affectionate nickname of “Haji” on account the great care he showed to all the youths.
In the early 1990s, Mohajir served actively in the State Youth Committee in the state of Negeri Sembilan and traveled across the state to meet many Local Bahá’í Youth Committees, and involved in extensive teaching activities. An iconic event was the highly successful Negeri Sembilan Youth Camp titled “Lifetime Service to Bahá’u’lláh,” held in November 1993 with more than 60 participating.
When the youths of Seremban and Rembau towns desired to attend the First ASEAN Baháʼí Youth Conference held in Prachuab Kirikhan, Thailand in October 1994 once again the ever enterprising Mohajir and Selvam took the lead in organizing this trip, with the parents of the youths granting full permission on account of the trust and confidence they had in these brothers. They traveled for almost 15 hours by train and returned with full enthusiasm. It was at this conference that the call for pioneering to Vietnam was first sounded, and it started to germinate within Mohajir’s young and tender soul until it materialized much later in 1995.
First ASEAN Baháʼí Youth Conference held in Prachuab Kirikhan, Thailand where Mohajir’s heart was moved to go pioneering.
Seated at extreme left is Mohajir, and to his left are Lua Rani, Vishnu, Shankar Muniappan, Selvi, Kasturi, Tarani Raj (unknown). Standing at the back of Mohajir are Seran Murugan, Madam Valli and Murali Rao. Standing at extreme right in the back row right with glasses is Selvam with Cues in front of him.The two ladies on the left dressed in red are L-R: Sarojini and Nazanin.
Upon completion of his studies, Mohajir started his career as an Auditor with the Price Waterhouse in Kuala Lumpur from 1993 to 1995. He married Malini, daughter of Mr. Rajaratnam of Port Dickson on 30 August 1995. Rajaratnam is the first believer of Port Dickson who accepted the Faith in 1955. Having been well settled as a family man with a good job, there was still an inner urge within Mohajir to take the Faith to foreign countries. And true to his sincere desire, Baháʼu’lláh enabled Mohajir to travel to serve the Faith in Vietnam, Thailand, Switzerland, Indonesia, and Singapore, and in all these places he left indelible traces of service. As such the services of Mohajir were spread out in these countries.
VIETNAM: 1995 –2004
Mohajir’s first job was in Vietnam. There was a call for pioneers to Vietnam, and Mohajir and Malini answered the call. In 1995 he joined the Finance Department with the Bin Ahn Water Supply Company of Salcon Engineering where he remained for 7 years. In 2002 he joined Syngenta, a Swiss firm, as the Head of Finance in Vietnam. He would continue working with Syngenta for18 years rising to the last held position of Country Head for Malaysia.
Mohajir with Mr. Quang Dinh Minh, member of the National Spiritual Assembly for many years preceding 1975, and Mr. Nguyen Van Loi, the first Auxiliary Board member in Vietnam appointed by Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum
He went to Vietnam at a time when Vietnam was slowly lifting restrictions on the Bahá’í Faith and other religions, and he worked closely with the Bahá’í community of Vietnam which was slowly but steadily regaining its footing. His areas of activities involved conducting training sessions and spiritualization institutes, and programs for the youths and adults. As a meticulous worker, Mohajir would prepare and plan some two to three months ahead for the execution of the programs with utmost dedication. Mr. Milkcues and Murali Subbarao of Malaysia also had offered their assistance to Mohajir on some of those training sessions.The training sessions were highly successful and Mohajir earned the appreciation of individuals and institutions. In addition to these programs. Mohajir did not lose sight of the individuals and on many occasions, he privately made arrangements to send youths for English classes.
Wedding party in Da Nang, Viet Nam on 7 December 2014. L-R: -Mrs. Uyen Thi, Mr. Nang Xinh Dang, Mohajir Satanam, Mrs. Thu Lam ( Bride). and Dang Van Vinh (Bridegroom)
Just before leaving Vietnam for Switzerland. Standing L-R: Mr. Hong An (Quynh’s Brother), Malini and Mohajir, Mr. Cuong, Counsellor Rosalie Tran, Mr. Nam, Mr. Thang. Sitting L-R: Shabnam Mohajir, Mrs. Diep, Quynh, Mr. Binh, Phuong, Anisa Mohajir.
(From January 2005 to July 2006 Mohajir worked with Syngenta Crop Protection AG in Switzerland as Head of Reporting.)
SINGAPORE: August 2006-December 2009
In August 2006, Mohajir moved back to Singapore. In many ways, it was a homecoming for him to the island where he had spent his teenage years as a student. The next three and half years of his stay in Singapore overlapped partly with the period when Mohajir was called upon to serve as an Auxiliary Board member for Vietnam until 2009. It was a service which he rendered with great joy as the Vietnamese Bahá’ís occupied a very special place in his heart. His service as a Board member for Vietnam culminated in the re-formation of the National Spiritual Assembly of Vietnam in Ridván 2008.
In Singapore, Mohajir and Malini’s home at Kovan Road was an oasis of hospitality for many Bahá’í youths from all over South East Asia passing through Singapore. Mohajir had high regard for the early believers of the Faith. One of the Baháʼí icons in Singapore was Mrs. Rose Ong, daughter of Yankee Leong, the first believer of Peninsula Malaysia, and a very dear friend of his late father. Mohajir had heard a lot of Rose Ong from his father and followed exactly what his father did- which is to visit her regularly. As Rose Ong was elderly, Mohajir and his wife Malini would warmly invite her to their house and pick her and send her back. At times when she was unable to attend some functions, either Mohajir or Malini would give her a lift in their car. Whenever Mohajir returned to Seremban to visit his family, he would bring along Rose Ong as her sister Lily Ng resident in the same town. In one of those trips back to Seremban, they reached the immigration checkpoint at the Singapore-Malaysia border, only to learn that Rose Ong had forgotten to bring along her passport. Mohajir, with the greatest understanding and patience, drove back to her apartment to get her passport so they were able to continue on their trip. Each time a visitor from abroad came to stay with Mohajir, he and Malini would bring them to visit Rose Ong, which simply cheered her heart.
Flying with Rose Ong from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur
In Singapore, Mohajir made the effort to connect with people, friends, strangers, and anyone who crossed his path, including strangers in a lift, and striking a casual conversation with people. He was selfless with time, generous with money, and had a great love for others.
Dr. Sathia Varqa Subbarao living in Singapore during this period has this to say, “While in Singapore, Mohajir’s family earned the name of what a Bahá’í family should be – hospitable, welcoming, kind, and respectful and above all rooted in service to others. He made a difference wherever he went. He touched hearts, listened attentively and embraced anyone who crossed his path.”
THAILAND: January 2010 – May 2013
My own first encounter with Mohajir was when I met him and his family in Bangkok in 2010. That first meeting had an everlasting effect on me. Working in Lao People’s Democratic Republic, I often traveled from Vientiane to Bangkok for my official meetings where I had the opportunity of visiting the Bahá’í friends. On one of those trips to Bangkok, Mohajir met me at the airport and took me to my hotel. Upon reaching the hotel he immediately asked me if I was available to go with him to meet some of his contacts in shops, neighborhoods, and the refugee settlements around Bangkok, which I gladly accepted. Soon Mohajir became a very close friend of mine, and in my subsequent visits, he invited me to stay at his house since that would save time and avoid the stress of the heavy traffic of Bangkok. In those subsequent visits, almost daily we went out meeting friends and teaching the Faith. In the evenings there were usually some Bahá’í activities held at his home where friends gathered, prayed, and studied the Holy Writings, went through the messages from the Universal House of Justice, or sat through the Ruhi classes. Malini too was behind all these activities constantly phoning people, arranging the activities, preparing sumptuous meals, and ensuring their comfort. Malini even insisted to do my laundry which I refused and did it myself. The couple flooded my heart with so much hospitality that my thoughts spontaneously recalled the example that my close friend since 1965 S. Satanam himself had set. Mohajir resembled his father in many ways. It was in fact the undying love that Satanam Singaravadiveloo had for Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Raḥmatu’lláh Muhájir that made him name this second son after the revered Hand of the Cause.
Seated attentively at the center is Mohajir at a Youth Camp held on 18 June 2011 at Magic Years International Kindergarten at Nonthaboury, Bangkok.
On another visit to Bangkok on a Friday, there was no fixed program awaiting me. Mohajir suddenly proposed an idea of going to Yasothon in the Northwest of Thailand by an overnight bus journey to join the community there at the Feast, and return the next night to be back in Bangkok on the following morning. I welcomed the suggestion and I joined Mohajir’s family in taking an overnight bus to Yasothon and arrived there early on Saturday morning. Since the Feast was in the evening we paid a visit to the neighboring Bahá’í village. We attended the Feast in the company of the local friends and the late Kannabaran and his wife Chansay from Vientiane and Faridian Abhasakun from Bangkok who were also there. After the Feast that night we took our return bus to Bangkok. We enjoyed the trip immensely although the bus ride took twenty-two hours back and forth, covered in two consecutive nights. Upon return to Bangkok on Sunday morning, we took a short rest and joined the study of Ruhi book eight in the afternoon. It occurred to me that when there was no activity, Mohajir would create one, as he seemed to loathe any rest. He had to be involved in some kind of activity while he was awake. That was the kind of lifestyle that Mohajir and his family led, with no rest at all.
My next visit to Bangkok coincided with the marriage of Rezwan, daughter of the late Kannabaran to Dayan from Brazil. At the hotel where the marriage took place Mohajir’s family and I were seated on a table along with four officials from the United Nations Development Program(UNDP). The friends from the UNDP began expressing admiration on the simplicity of the Bahá’í marriage ceremony and the Bahá’í readings on marriage, and that led to a meaningful conversation. Mohajir seized the opportunity to share a number of insights about the Faith. The excited officers asked for literature on the Faith and upon returning home, Mohajir sent them Baháʼí literature and soon they became regular attendees at Bahá’í firesides. Mohajir was always on the lookout to share the message of Baháʼu’lláh at every given opportunity.
Mohajir joined the breaking of fast on 14 March 2017 and studying the 01 March 2017 letter from the Universal House of Justice, on his later visit in 2017. Seated L-R: Firouz Parsi, Vaughan Smith, and Sukhum Abhasakun Faridian with Mohajir at the apartment of Firouz in Bangkok.
When I was in Bangkok on yet another occasion, Mohajir was expecting a guest, David Mocan from the Philippines who was scheduled to arrive after midnight at the Bangkok Airport. When midnight approached he told me to rest while he would go to the airport to receive the friend. I insisted on going along with him. Mohajir drove me to the airport. There was an hour’s delay on the arrival of the plane, and by the time we brought David home, it was 02:30 in the morning. Mohajir had to leave at 06:30 am for work and barely slept. Soon I could hear him reciting his morning prayers and he then left for work. To him, nothing was too much trouble and he always had the time when came to making visitors feel comfortable.
Whilst in Thailand, Mohajir served on the National Spiritual Assembly of Thailand and had the bounty and privilege of participating in the International Bahá’í Convention held in 2013 to elect the Universal House of Justice.
International Convention of 2013- L-R: Sukhin Ludher, K. Elango, Thian Boon Meng, Mohajir Satanam, Selvam Satanam, and Jeremy Pemberton-Pigott
INDONESIA: June 2013 – January 2015
Mohajir and his family lived in Jakarta Indonesia for one and a half years. As he and his family would always do, Mohajir opened their home for Bahá’í activities. Every week, there were Bahá’í activities in his house and on occasion, large-scale gatherings were held in the hall of their home, most times both Mohajir and Malini would organize them. Mohajir belonged to the same community as their family friend, Nabil Chinniah, who was originally from Malaysia himself and naturally they became close co-workers. Once Nabil and Mohajir were playing badminton in Mohajir’s apartment complex. After their gameplay, Mohajir went over and spoke to some adults and children learning Tae Kwon Do. He invited them over his house later. They were Sri Lankan refugees and Mohajir started the Ruhi books with them in the Tamil language. Till today, that family is still actively engaged in the Bahá’í community.
Mohajir and Nabil served in the same Assembly. For Mohajir, adherence to principles of the Bahá’í administration was most important, there was no compromise and he went by the textbooks. There was an occasion when the incident where the community wanted the dates and timing of the Feasts and Holy days to be compromised to accommodate their busy working schedules. But Mohajir reminded them that there is a spiritual purpose to hold the Feast from sunset to sunset every 19 days. As Nabil Chinniah recollected about his friend, “He would always quote from the Writings on these Teachings. To this day, that Baháʼí guidance stayed with the community. Every day in Mohajir’s life was a Bahá’í day and every time a believer met Mohajir, his conversation was invariably about service to the Cause. Always there were families to meet and invite to Bahá’í devotionals at his home. He was happiest when he was able to do something for the Faith.”
Jakarta, Indonesia. Mohajir and his daughters with Mrs. Parvin Payman seated (L) and her daughter Shida seated (R)
SINGAPORE [AGAIN]: February 2015 – March 2019
In early 2015, Mohajir moved back to Singapore. At the specific request of the National Spiritual Assembly of Singapore, Mohajir and Malini located their home in the Bedok neighborhood. The next three to four years saw Mohajir serving ceaselessly in the Bedok neighborhood and the East cluster in Singapore and contributing significantly to its growth, including as the cluster development facilitator in the establishment of an intensive programme of growth in the cluster. In May 2018, Mohajir was elected on to the National Spiritual Assembly of Singapore – a service which that national institution described as being “manifested by a spirit of humility, abiding dedication to the Cause and frank yet thoughtful insights that enriched consultations at its meetings”. Mohajir’s service on the National Spiritual Assembly of Singapore was also memorable as it was the one and only time when both he and his brother Selvam served together on the same institution.
National Spiritual Assembly of Singapore. L-R: K. Elango, Jes Velasquez, Lalitha Melic, Mohajir Satanam, Susie Wong, Avinash Panjabi, Thian Boon Meng, Selvam Satanam, and Katyana Melic. A rare occasion when both the sons of Satanam served together on any institution.
In Mohajir’s second term in Singapore, his home was once again a lighthouse from which the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and the loving winds of Bahá’í hospitality were diffused through countless devotional gatherings, firesides, and holy day celebrations. Very frequently, he would hold devotional meetings, host talks by visitors from abroad, organize musical evenings and hold the breaking of fast during the fasting month. Numerous Bahá’ís from various countries such as Germany, Mauritius, United States, Andaman Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam all experienced their family’s loving hospitality. Mohajir was also on the lookout for believers who were not seen at activities for some time. He would make extra efforts to connect with people and organize lunch or coffee to catch up with such friends. This was also the time when his father’s close dear friend Mrs. Rose Ong had a bad fall not far from her flat and hit her head on the ground. A passer-by helped her and took her to a doctor and she had six stitches over her right eye. When Mohajir and Malini heard that she was unsteady on her feet, they came forward and assisted her in whatever way they could for her subsequent medical check-ups. In one of my own visits to Rose Ong with Mohajir, we saw that her apartment was under renovation and the furniture had to be moved around. Unasked, and spontaneously Mohajir moved the furniture for almost the whole day, slogging and sweating profusely. This was a touching moment for both Rose Ong and me. Of Mohajir, Rose Ong remarked, “He never refused anyone who asked him for some aid, small or big which he would do willingly. I witnessed the same attitude their father Mr. Satanam did. Whenever Satanam visited Singapore he would take his family to pay me a visit.”
I had an opportunity to meet with Mohajir in Battambang, Cambodia in September 2017 on the occasion of the inauguration of the Baháʼí House of Worship. We went together to the House of Worship for prayers several times each day. Mohajir had been a regular visitor to Cambodia and served the Cambodian Bahá’í community as a Resource Person assigned by the Universal House of Justice for a period in 2010. During the prayer sessions in the hall of the House of Worship, I observed that while Mohajir was immersed in prayers and deep meditation, with tears flowing down his cheeks. When we were back in the hotel at night, a few of us got together and discussed the implications of the erection of this spiritual edifice in the development of the Faith in Cambodia. I remember Mohajir providing keen details on the historical development of the House of Worship right up to its inauguration and some of its future implications in the region. Mohajir indeed had a sound knowledge of the subject.
Winter School in Ipoh town, December 2017. L-R: Author Dr. Firaydun Mithaq, Giti Mithaq, Malini, Samoa daughter of Dr. Firaydun pioneering in China, Shabnam Mohajir and Mohajir
In 2017 I made a few visits to some rural Malaysian communities to assist in the process of community building and met Mohajir at his mother’s home in Seremban. Each time we met he kept inviting me to visit them in Singapore. I told him that I could not do much in a sophisticated city like Singapore. But when we met again in December 2017 in Ipoh town for a Winter School, he convinced me to visit Singapore. Accepting his invitation I visited Singapore in July 2018. I flew into Kuala Lumpur International Airport where Mohajir received me. After spending a night at his mother’s home in Seremban we flew to Singapore the next day. Each day we had Bahá’í activities for the seventeen days I was in Singapore. During this period Mohajir was busy taking me to the five Bahá’í communities in Singapore where we met people at their homes or at community gatherings for teaching, consolidation, deepening, and devotionals. Each day we were jumping from one activity to another with no rest. He even took me to the Bahá’í cemetery where we prayed at the graves of the many veterans of the Faith such as Dr. K. M. Fozdar and Shirin Fozdar the first pioneers to Singapore. The trip to Singapore turned out to be a huge success despite my earlier reservations that Singapore was not my place of service. The credit goes to Mohajir who tailored the program in such a way that I could be well utilized in the city communities. I guess he knew the art of utilizing different friends for different kinds of services.
RETURN TO MALAYSIA
Mohajir returned from Singapore to Seremban in March 2019, much to the jubilating joy of the community, as they were well aware that Mohajir is a great asset. By a coincidence, we met at the resting place of Yankee Leong in Ipoh where we came to offer prayers. He invited me to Seremban to be his guest for a few weeks to help in revitalizing the communities in that region and assured that I will be receiving guidance from the National Spiritual Assembly on that matter. In November 2019, I arrived in Malaysia and met Mohajir in Seremban. In the course of nineteen days in Seremban, we visited many Bahá’í communities in the region based on the National Spiritual Assembly’s guidance which was sent to me. We also participated in the Bicentenary Celebrations of the birth of the Báb in the Rembau community. Since Rembau was very promising I decided to return to Rembau to follow up with the consolidation work.
Mohajir, standing back row fourth from (R) with some members of the Seremban community
I returned to Rembau on February 28, 2020, to serve for forty-five days in teaching and consolidation activities. With the COVID19 turning into a pandemic I was forced to leave Malaysia on March 20, 2020. But in those twenty days, my activities included home visits, devotionals, and restarting the study circles for Ruhi Books 5, 6, and 8, with a total of twenty-four participants. Mohajir was the engine behind all of these actives but he was so humble never to mention his pivotal role to anyone.
The last year of Mohajir on this earthly life was more eventful. In Ridván 2019 he was elected to the Local Spiritual Assembly where he served as Chairman. Subsequently, he was elected to the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia in September 2019 during a by-election and served as a Treasurer. Given his professional background as an Auditor and Chartered Public Accountant (CPA), Mohajir was able to perform his tasks extremely well as Treasurer.
As Treasurer of the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Malaysia Mohajir addressed the special conference of the community that was held with Dr. Payman Mohajir, a member of the Universal House of Justice in December 2019
Although he served on the national institution for only a few months, he left a lasting legacy and memory of his ever-smiling face, active, eager, and willing involvement in all consultations, assignments, and tasks. His last email to Counselor Dr. Loh Lee Lee was about the Asli community development of the funds that were needed for completing a project, and Mohajir made arrangements for the funds to be sent on time.
An important video on the Funds that Mohajir produced with the assistance of Anis Karuppiah who provided technical expertise. The music and choice of quotations seem to convey Mohajir’s gentleness, yet firmness of faith and clarity of vision.
While holding these responsibilities, he was also Secretary of the Area Teaching Committee of Seremban Cluster, a role that carried heavy responsibilities with it. These included supporting the two hundred devotional meetings in that cluster, attending regular meetings, dealing with correspondence, writing of reports, and last but not least, visiting communities. He was also a tutor for Ruhi Books 6, 9, and 11.
One of the feathers in the cap for the Seremban Bahá’í community was the resounding success of the Bicentennial celebrations of the Birth of the Báb, which was well reported in the Star Metro dated 28 November 2019 – an event where Mohajir played his usual major big role coupled with all these hives of activities, Mohajir took upon himself the added task of the development of the Asli friends. He often visited their villages and listened to them and helped them, reminiscent of his time with the Iban friends in Sarawak. He moved like a resistless storm, urging friends in Seremban to put the community on the fast track of progress and growth. His only focus was to serve restlessly to accomplish and bring tasks to a successful conclusion, and by any means. Vimala Ratha, who served on the Assembly with Mohajir, shared this observation has this to say, “Mohajir worked without sufficient rest and friends tried to advise him to slow down. But his reply was that opportunities will be lost forever if they are not attended to today! It was numerous heavy loads and responsibilities without rest that stressed him.”
Bicentennial celebrations of the Birth of the Báb in Seremban,2019. Chairman of the Assembly Mohajir is second from left, while Maya Karupiah the Treasurer explains the exhibits to the representatives from the different Faiths. (Photo Courtesy: StarMetro)
While attending to community activities, Mohajir never forgot the individual friends and visited them at their homes, and gave all the encouragement in what they were doing. He reached out to dormant believers who seldom came for activities to encourage them to return to active service of the Faith. Mohajir pushed his own limits to the maximum and moved with urgency, urging all to rise to greater heights of service and he himself set the example.
Mrs. Geetha Sharma who served with Mohajir on the Assembly in Seremban has this to say, “It is no exaggeration to say that friends who accompanied and served with him could not keep pace with his speed and his numerous commitments. They used to wonder with awe how and from where he got the energy and time to do so many things so well. After a busy Assembly meeting that went past midnight, its members would retire to bed, only to receive early in the morning messages, quotations, PowerPoints, charts, and references on the subjects that were discussed in the assembly meeting the previous night. The Assembly members while welcoming those preparations still wondered how he had the time to all that? They wondered if he prepared them before retiring to bed, and that has to be at dawn.”
Nabil Chinniah from Indonesia says, “When my mother-in-law, the wife of Anthony Louis, passed away in Malacca, Mohajir drove for hours from Singapore to Malacca to pay his last respects. He then drove back to Singapore the same day. I asked him why this much trouble, and he replied that such are the moments when Bahá’ís must give strength to the bereaved.”
Towards the close of his earthly life, his magnanimity came to the fore. In February, the country was slowly plunging into the COVID 19 crisis and Mohajir wanted to do his part. On the afternoon of 25 March, he arrived at unexpectedly at the Seremban General Hospital and handed over to Mrs. Uma Bachu, a believer and Matron at the same hospital, two boxes of N95 masks for the staff of the hospital and one box of homemade murukku (an Indian crunchy snack) for Uma. He expressed much concern for the safety of the hard-working health care workers and assured her that he would pray for them. Upon returning home he sent a text that read, “God bless all your pure and selfless hearts. What you are all doing is self-sacrificial. Stay safe and please be assured of our prayers. Take care and rest well. Bahá’u’lláh will surely watch over you and your colleagues.” Uma was very touched and moved by the gesture of this pure caring soul.
Mohajir was obsessed with plans to serve the Cause even during his last moments on this earthly plane. Murali Subbarao, a close friend of Mohajir since childhood days mentions that when he came back to his parents house in Mambau from Penang due to the Movement Control Order issued by the Malaysian Government in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic, Mohajir called upon him at his parent’s residence and discussed plans to conduct Ruhi Book 11 for Murali’s family and some other friends. Mohajir immediately created a WhatsApp group on 29 March 2020 to proceed with the preparatory works. But before the details could be worked out, he was already in the hospital. Suddenly and most unexpectedly, the news spread to his close friends that he was admitted to hospital on 8 April for clots in his heart and lungs.
Mohajir’s last plan was to execute conducting Ruhi Book 11. (WhatsApp Image from phone of Murali).
The friends who had heard of his hospitalization were asked not to visit him as he needed to rest. When Mohajir did not show any sign of recovery the family requested prayers from the community through the National Spiritual Assembly, and the national institution itself said ardent prayers for him. After a short bout in a coma, he passed away on Saturday, 11 April 2020. The Spiritual Assembly of the Baháʼís of Malaysia, on which Mohajir served as Treasurer, sent out this message to the entire community:
…A distinguished son of an illustrious father, he poured out his life in uninterrupted service to the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh, as a teacher, pioneer to Vietnam for many years, and member of the National Spiritual Assemblies of Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia, as Auxiliary Board Member in Vietnam and Resource Person of the Universal House of Justice for Cambodia. He combined immense personal warmth, generosity of spirit, utmost humility, and meticulous thought with utter consecration, unwavering obedience, firmness in the Covenant, unfailing love for the Faith. His cheerfulness and dedication touched and inspired the hearts of all those who crossed his path, and heightened their enthusiasm for service. His tireless efforts to spread the teachings of Baha’u’llah in every community left a legacy that will be felt for generations.
He passed away when the country was in a lockdown owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. The nation-wide lockdown prevented many friends from paying their last respects to their much loved and admired friend. A funeral service with limited people was arranged at his home and the burial took place at the Seremban Baháʼí Memorial Park on 12 April. Both the events were shown to the community through online the Zoom technology. From Chieng Mai, my wife and I viewed dear Mohajir’s funeral online, and also joined the memorial service held for him a few days later. Some of the words spoken by friends at both the funeral and the memorial service are used in this story.
Whilst it is hard to understand the wisdom of Mohajir’s early departure to the Abhá Kingdom, he has left behind in the hearts of innumerable people who crossed his life traces of his love and inspiring memories that continue to be a source of joy and encouragement to them. Mohajir’s kindness, humility, faith, generosity, and his absolute reliance on the power of prayer and divine assistance are his other distinguishing characteristics. His priorities were teaching and promotion of the Faith. He had high regard and respect for the institutions of the Faith and was well-read in the Writings which he often quoted even in any normal conversation, what more when addressing friends at gatherings. Mohajir was well known in the outside world where he was respected and admired for the upright character he possessed. The legacy and services of Mohajir was only known after his passing. Counsellor Loh Lee Lee said while conveying condolences from the Continental Board of the Counsellors, “For Mohajir, it was what must be done has to be done at any cost. He was restless and always in a rush. Somehow he felt an urgency to do things otherwise the opportunities will be lost.”
Mohajir had a rare charm about him and a countenance that was always radiant with a warm smile, thus becoming a magnetic personality wherever he went. He was a man of great humility, of which Auxiliary Board Member Mr. Gobinathan Gopal says, “Mohajir did many things without mentioning his name. He sent reports as though it was written by someone else. There was one time I asked him if he knew so many were going through a study of higher Ruhi books in Seremban, and his reply was noncommittal. But when I checked with the Area Coordinator, I came to know that it was Mohajir who was tutoring. I was humbled to learn that Mohajir had mastered this praiseworthy virtue.” K. Tamil Maran, a close family friend of the Satanams says,“I personally felt Muhajir was seeking and wanted, something deeper and deeper everytime by his thoughts, being and doing, away from the regular daily thoughts and activities of daily life. He was seeking higher dimensions.”
I observed that Mohajir was in the habit of empowering others by sending materials to his friends. Ever since we met for the first time he continually sent me interesting materials about the progress of the Faith that included Bahá’í news, reports of community growth, teaching endeavors, and accomplishments in some communities. On a number of occasions, Mohajir informed me that it was the Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Raḥmatu’lláh Muhájir that he took as his role model and tried to follow his footsteps in every possible way.
Generosity in helping those in need was part of his nature. I remember one incident in Bangkok. Mohajir used to visit the refugees once a week and have devotionals with them. There was a Ceylonese Christian refugee living in Bangkok with his wife and their 12-year-old son. The poor couple had to work to earn even for small amounts of money to pay for the education of their son. Suddenly, his wife was caught while working and imprisoned because it was against the labor law for refugees to work in Thailand. Her husband and son dared not to go to visit her in prison fearing they might be arrested as well. The father who had known Mohajir used to bring the son to Mohajir’s house every weekend for some basic education. Malini taught him some English and helped him in his school lessons while Mohajir involved him in the Junior Youth Program. The worried father soon found solace in reciting the Bahá’í prayers and listening attentively to the Bahá’í Teachings. We gave him Bahá’í literature which he read and asked further explanations. He became a strong sympathizer of the Faith. I was moved when he quietly told me he was grateful to Mohajir and Malini who helped them not only by educating his son, but also gave them financial aid, which I did not know.
The Mohajir I had known was great in yet another way. Despite his pressure from Baháʼí activities, Mohajir was able to balance his Baháʼí obligations with his family as a loving husband and a lovely father, looking after their comfort and needs. He would among others, help his children with studies, watch television programs with the family, organize family recreational trips and go out for family dinners, not forgetting celebrations of birthdays and wedding anniversaries. Mohajir was there whenever he was needed to provide the emotional and spiritual needs of the family. As a person with a high sense of humor, he always found ways to keep the family happily laughing away. These and many of his other exemplary ways are gone and shall be missed forever, as a loving husband for Malini, a caring father for Shabnam and Anisa, a supportive brother for Lua and Selvam, a dutiful son of the Satanams and and doting uncle to his nieces Asha and Eshaa and nephew Sanjay, not forgetting a lovable brother in law for Lua’s husband Tharama and Selvam’s wife Navvab.
The Blessed Beauty has left behind His teachings and Writings to guide us. It is my own understanding that He also sends from time to time some angelic souls who add fresh laurels into the community of the Greatest Name. Mohajir Selvaraj Satanam was just one such heroic angels of God during our own lifetime, and whom the current and rising generations will joyfully remember.
Dr. Firaydun Mithaq
31 May 2020
USEFUL LINK. Here is the story of S. Satanam, father of Mohajir: