REMEMBERING DR. SREENIVASAN

REMEMBERING DR. SREENIVASAN

11 February 1931 to 23 July 2021

Dr. M. M. Sreenivasan affectionately called Dr. Sreeni moved as a colossal figure in the Malaysian Bahá’í community and served the Cause in various capacities with such an unprecedented driving force. Always on the lookout for how the Faith could be served, he ventured into areas less traveled and left no stone unturned to the best of his capacity.

Reading his life, there would be no convincing needed that from his childhood days he had been prepared for a great service that he was destined to play as he grew up. His parents were very conservative Hindus attending temple functions and practicing rituals at home. The parents encouraged him to attend temple rituals as well. Even when he was merely five years old, his parents had instilled religious values in him, which played a pivotal role in shaping his life and ultimately led him to accept the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh.

When he was 12 years old he came across some moving passages in the Bible that was left by a British Estate Manager. The statement in the Bible on heaven and hell sent fear into his spine and thereafter he decided never to be subject to punishment from God.  He had his early education in Parit Buntar town, and after the Second World War was over, he resumed his education in the  Penang Free School. A Reverend belonging to the Methodist denomination and a family friend of Dr. Sreeni’s parents offered him a room in his house in Dato Keramat Road in Penang.  While Dr. Sreeni started to go to church every Sunday, he felt that there was something spiritually lacking that did not quench the fire of search in his heart. After prayerful days he left the Reverend’s house and stayed with the family of another lecturer. He also stopped going to church. Deep inside, there was an unquenchable spiritual thirst driving him to seek some light that suited his soul.

Upon completion of his Senior Cambridge Examination with distinction in the Penang Free School, he was sent to India where he obtained a medical degree from the Madras Medical College. During his student days in India, he continued reading many sacred books and asked for explanations from knowledgeable students. They have disunited themselves and seemed to be misinterpreting the Sacred Writings and that was acutely disturbing and confusing for him. His search for a living religion that has all its followers united was not to be found in India.


A young Dr. Sreeni

Just three months before graduating with a medical degree, his parents arrived in India and got him married to a girl they had chosen for him. He saw Miss Sulochana, Molly as came to be called later, for the first time on the day of their marriage! He would recall often that he was richly blessed with a wife who was truly an angel of God in every possible way!


Molly and Dr. Sreeni led a life-long bond of love for each other and the Faith

Upon returning to Malaysia in 1960 with a medical degree, he joined the Government service as a Medical Officer and worked in hospitals in the towns of Taiping, Ipoh, Kuala Lipis, and a few other places. The moment he started his housemanship, he told his father to retire, after having sacrificed so much to get him and his siblings educated. He assured his father that he would look after him and his mother. All the while he was still deeply occupied in searching for a religion that suited his life, while still visiting temples, supporting Hindu rituals, and meeting Hindu spiritual gurus from India.

During this period, when his sister was going to be married, he applied for a fortnight’s leave. When his application was rejected with no consideration for family sentiments, he immediately tendered his resignation from the Government service.

He went back to Taiping where his parents were living and began a private medical practice. Soon his clinic became popular among the townsfolks.  He was also invited to join several social service organizations. He established the Junior Chamber in an international organization and assisted the Rotarians, with the Taiping Town Council leasing a room for him to hold meetings. Temples in the surrounding areas too invited him to be at their functions. Heads of many government departments and non-governmental organizations became his very good friends. As a family, they were all happy.

While he was becoming a successful medical practitioner and well established in society, he and his wife became good friends with an Inspector of Police, Mr. Sivaraja who introduced them to Sivaraja’s wife, Ms. Padma. The Sivarajas arranged meetings in their home each Friday for one Mrs. Betty Fernandez from Bagan Serai town related to a new and different religion in Sivaraja’s home.  Dr. Sreeni was not interested in yet one more religion.

While Dr. Sreeni had his own views, Divine Will played its role. A few days later, while Dr. Sreeni was in his clinic, an unknown local manager of the American International Insurance company by the name of  Lim Chong Ghee handed over a book and said, “This book is from Mrs. Betty Fernandez,  wife of our Officer in Charge of Police District in the Krian District. She conducts meetings every Friday in Inspector Sivarajah’s house. She asked me to hand over this book to you.”  Dr. Sreeni guessed that it must be the work of the Sivarajahs to send Lim to present the book entitled “All Things Made New”. As soon as he flipped through a few pages, he closed the book when his eyes fell on some foreign-sounding names. He then shelved it with some other books on the table and forgot all about it.  Out of the blues, his practice encountered an inexplicable difficult time, unbeknown to him that there was a power behind that, which he realized much later.

A few days later while he was sitting in his room in his clinic, Mr. Lim Chong Ghee visited him again. This time Dr. Sreeni felt relieved that he had someone whom he could converse with rather than worrying about difficulties confronting him! When Lim invited Dr. Sreeni to join his two other friends for lunch the next day, he instantly agreed. The next day Lim drove him to a nearby restaurant. At the restaurant, Dr. Sreeni was introduced to Mr. Ravichandran, an engineer from Kuala Lumpur, and Mr. Leong Ho Chiew, a Police Inspector working in Bluff Road, Kuala Lumpur and residing in Petaling Jaya. Before ordering the lunch, Leong suggested saying some prayers, and Ravichandran requested Dr. Sreeni to say a prayer and handed over to him a Bahá’í prayer book. Dr. Sreeni flipped through the pages and selected a short prayer which he read. It was the prayer for spiritual growth, “O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit…”. As he said the prayers he felt lighter and the burden weighing on his shoulders lifted! He felt a sense of joy that he had never experienced beforeThat was the first Bahá’í prayer that he recited. When he was informed that he had just read a Bahá’í prayer, he immediately asked for details of the Bahá’í Faith. Following a short introduction, Dr. Sreeni was enamored by the Faith and asked how he could become a Bahá’í. The excited Ravichandran gave him a Bahá’í declaration card to be filled. Dr. Sreeni signed the card without any further hesitation and became a believer. During lunch, there were detailed discussions on the Faith.  Before departing for Kuala Lumpur, Ravichandran gave him a reel tape of  a talk by Hand of the Cause of God Mr. William Sears delivered  at the First Bahá’í  World Congress  in London in 1963, and also a copy of the book, “All Things Made New.”

That was the birth of a new Sreenivasan. A new chapter started in his life, which became a sweet beginning of a wide range of activities that enriched the history of the Faith in Malaysia. History would have it that the strange circumstances in which Dr. Sreeni came into the Faith and the great role he played since accepting the Faith was the direct working of Divine Providence.


S. Ravichandran at left and Leong Ho Chiew at right

Returning to the clinic, Dr. Sreeni was more than convinced that the trials and tribulations which had befallen him for the past five years were to open his inner eyes. He meditated and it dawned upon him that those trials had their genesis in him ignoring the book All Things Made New! At home, he started reciting the Bahá’í prayers. It was his wife who first saw the transformation in him, followed by his mother.  It did not take long before they too recognized and accepted the Bahá’í Faith.

The next few months were flooded with many unusual and happy events filling each day of his life.  In November 1968, he moved to Butterworth town where he established his medical practice, his own clinic – The “Chaygin Clinic” at 4960, Jalan Bagan Jermal Road. With activities carried out by a handful of Bahá’ís in Butterworth, a few more accepted the Faith, leading to the election of a Local Spiritual Assembly was formed in 1969.  Within the following two years, he was elected Chairman of the  Local Spiritual Assembly of Butterworth. The Chaygin Clinic was used as a Bahá’í Centre which became a hive of activities. It was situated on the main road running from the northernmost town of Padang Besar to the southernmost town of Johor Baru. Believers traveling on that road started dropping in his clinic to meet up with him. His company simply uplifted the atmosphere.

In his own words, Dr. Sreeni was able to see the unfailing power of divine assistance in operation. Although he had lived in a rubber plantation settlement known as an estate in the pre-war period, he had not picked up the Tamil language, and even while studying for medicine in India, he had not taken up the language. The turning point was when he was thrown into “deep waters” in the Patani Para Estate near Sungei Petani town. On his maiden visit to the estate in 1970, Mr. S. Nagaratnam, a member of the National Spiritual Assembly who was also present there, requested him to say a few words in the Tamil language to the Tamil-speaking friends who were gathered there. The shocked Sreeni who was not fluent in Tamil, went for a walk alone in a dark alley, praying to be guided. When he returned to the gathering, he spoke what he thought was Tamil for some fifteen minutes. To his surprise, the friends who had gathered were appreciative of what he had shared. On another occasion, he conducted a Bahá’í wedding in the Tamil language at the National Bahá’í  Centre in Kuala Lumpur. He also conducted a day-long spiritualization session in the Tamil language at the Tanjung Rambutan community in Perak. When sending off the first batch of travel teachers to participate in the South India Teaching Project at the Subang International Airport in October 1977, Dr. Sreeni spoke to them in very clear and moving words in the Tamil language. In the talk that lasted a full five minutes, he drove home the cardinal message that they were participating in a project of the Universal House of Justice, which is none other than the voice of God Himself for this day. He told them that they should feel proud to have been selected for such an immense project, and urged them to make Bahá’u’lláh, the Supreme Body, and the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia proud by bringing victories in the field. Many participants took his advice into their hearts and remembered those moving words in the teaching fields and even after returning home to Malaysia. Dr. Sreeni somehow had developed a love for the Tamil language.  He recalled a time when he went all alone to meet with the priest and committee members of the Sunderaraj Perumal Temple in Klang where he gave a talk on Hinduism and the Bahá’í Faith. He recollected all these experiences and the words of Baha’u’llah “How can I succeed unless Thou assist me with the breath of the Holy Spirit, … and shower upon me Thy confirmations, which alone can change a gnat into an eagle…” Dr. Sreeni expressed that indeed he felt the powers of divine assistance and confirmation when he submitted and arose to serve even when he felt inadequate.


A gathering with David and Joy from Michigan, USA, in Butterworth, 1971. Seated L-R:                       S. Nagaratnam, David Earl, Betty,  Joy Earl, Lily Janz. At the back-middle are Molly (L) and Dr. Sreeni (R) carrying Sha’in. At the extreme right at back is Vijayasegaran

In January 1971, Dr. Sreeni released the first issue of a monthly newsletter – “Light of The Age”, with the assistance of his nurse  Teresa, and other youth in the community. That newsletter was well received with many news items and deepening materials, and many subscribed to it from across the country.  The National Spiritual Assembly adopted it as Malaysia’s own monthly deepening bulletin and announced in the Malaysian Bahá’í News magazine’s December 1971 issue that the 12-15 page bulletin was unique in Malaysia, and perhaps the Bahá’í world. It was priced at M$1.00 for 12 issues and USD $1.00 for overseas.  Free copies were made available to those who could not afford them.  When Dr. Sreeni sent out the first few issues, Counselor Dr. Chellie Sundram himself, as well as many others were surprised by the resourcefulness of the monthly magazine and paid him a visit, to witness Dr. Sreeni typing out the newsletter with just two index fingers! When  Dr. Sreeni moved to Kuala Lumpur in 1973,  the magazine was renamed  “Berita Bahai” which became a two-page circular with important news items from across the country. However, owing to other heavy commitments and the lack of resources the circular was discontinued, unfortunately.

Dr. Sreeni was fond of inviting visitors to Malaysia, whenever possible to meet the community in Butterworth. Towards the end of 1970, Mrs. Gibson, an American pioneer went across the country to encourage the Bahá’í friends to attend the forthcoming Oceanic Conference of the South China Seas to be held in Singapore in early January 1971. One of the places she visited was Butterworth, where she conducted deepening sessions using the recorded talk by Hand of the Cause of God on the theme of the majesty and greatness of the Local Spiritual Assembly. For this session, Dr. Sreeni invited some adults from the Bagan Serai town, who would benefit from these classes.

In October, the first Regional Youth Conference was organized in Butterworth where the National Bahá’í Youth Committee encouraged all to attend the Oceanic Conference to be held in January 1971 in Singapore. Through the efforts of Dr. Sreeni, a bungalow was booked for all to stay overnight. In declaring open the conference, Counsellor Dr. Chellie Sundram remarked that just one year ago, he would not have dreamt of such a conference in Butterworth and that it was Dr. Sreeni who was the driving force behind the youths who all rallied behind him to make it possible.

When a national teaching project was in progress, he rallied the members of the community in saying the Remover of Difficulties prayer 500 times, which was the first effort of its kind in Butterworth. Dr. Sreeni would be remembered for gathering together the older friends who had become inactive and ensuring that assistance was given to neighboring communities that needed assistance, such as Perai and Bukit Mertajam. The two activities that went on without fail were the weekly firesides and deepening sessions. The youths turned up in large numbers to listen to his deepening sessions. He was also a great motivator for the Inter-State Youth gatherings, bringing together youths from the states of Penang, and Kedah for a start in 1971, and gave every encouragement for them to be involved in teaching activities. Dr. Sreeni ensured there was always some attraction for the youths to frequent his clinic. He got hold of a carom board for the youths to spend their time when they were not involved in Bahá’í activities. Dr. Sreeni was the happiest when Hand of the Cause of God Mr. Featherstone visited many communities in the northern part of the country at a special venue in Butterworth in 1971.

From the moment Dr. Sreeni accepted the Faith he prayed that his thoughts, deeds, and words would reflect the teachings. He seized every opportunity to proclaim the Faith. When he and his wife were blessed with their fourth child, a son on 14 November 1971, they seized the opportunity and organized a naming ceremony for him in a public venue, in the presence of a large number of members of the public who heard of the Faith for the first time.  Prayers were taken from the Tablet of `Abdu’l-Bahá as found in the Star of the West, Volume 9. That was an unprecedented effort in the history of the Faith. He had developed a very good relationship with the members of the print media which published news items on the Faith.


Naming ceremony for Sha’in 

Mention has to be made that when Hand of the Cause of God Mr. Enoch Olinga came to the Oceanic Conference of the South China Seas held in Singapore in January 1971, as the official representative of the Universal House of Justice, the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia appointed Dr. Sreeni to be the officer in attendance for the Hand of the Cause. At the conference, Dr. Sreeni introduced himself to Mr. Olinga, who acknowledged him with his usual radiant smile. Dr. Sreeni was surprised and remarked that throughout those three days of the Conference, the Hand of the Cause did not request anything at all from him.


Exhibition at the Oceanic Conference in Singapore, January 1971. Front row L-R: Hand of the Cause of God Mr. Enoch Olinga, Dr. Sreeni, Yankee Leong, Dr. Chellie John Sundram, with Dr. Astani from Indonesia partly hidden at the back of Dr. Sundram. To the right of the Hand of the Cause is Mrs. Madge Featherstone

In Riḍván 1971, he was elected as a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia and continued to keep the flame afire in Butterworth. But the turn of events forced him to relocate to Kuala Lumpur. In August 1972, Mr. Inbum Chinniah, Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly left for Africa on a six-month travel teaching trip.  Dr. Sreeni was then elected to serve as Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly.  With that, his family had to move to Kuala Lumpur first, and then into Petaling Jaya in the state of Selangor. That was a move undertaken following a period of an unprecedented surge of activities in Butterworth. His transfer was a great loss to Butterworth and a precious and tremendous gain to Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya, and through which a new chapter began in his life, and by extension to the history of the Faith in this country.


Local Spiritual Assembly of Kuala Lumpur, 1973. Standing L-R: A. P. Arumugam, Machamboo, Govindasamy and Jami Maniam. Seated L-R: Suguna Arumugam, Lily Chinniah, Dr. M. M. Sreenivasan, Yaw Kam Sim, C. Kanagaratnam


National Spiritual Assembly of 1973. Seated L-R: Yin Hong Shuen, Ganasa Murthi, Shantha Sundram. Standing L-R: A. P. Arumugam,  K. Rajah, S. Nagaratnam, Dr. M. M. Sreenivasan, Isaac DCruz, Dr. M. Singaraveloo

He was already a lover of the Writings and following the Spiritualization Institute held in Port Dickson in December 1972 with Jenabe Caldwell coordinating it, Dr. Sreeni continued to be actively involved in Weekend Spiritualization Institutes in several parts of the country.

He was appointed to the Pioneer Committee in 1973 and continued to be involved in all community activities while shouldering the heavy responsibility of discharging the duties as Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly.  In 1974, he was appointed Assistant to the Auxiliary Board member, and in 1976 he was appointed as an Auxiliary Board member. Over the years he had also served in various capacities, including as Assistant Registrar of Marriages in the 1980s. He served with unabated ardor and carried out his duties as unrestrained as the wind across the country while still based in the Petaling Jaya community.  He walked into yet a few more paths less traveled.  He began traveling to many parts of Malaysia for teaching and deepening and at the same time meeting with visitors from overseas, including the Hands of the Cause of God.


At the Petaling Jaya  Bahá’í Centre.Seated L-R: Inbum Chinniah, Joan with her son Riaz, Lily Chinniah, Lum Weng Hoe, and Shirley Wong

As an Auxiliary Board member, Dr. Sreeni became an excellent communicator. He initiated a weekly newsletter called “From the Desk of Dr. Sreeni” that was sent across the country, carrying a lot of deepening materials, messages from the institutions, and news items. The recipients were very thrilled to receive them. That became a newsletter that was much looked forward to.

Always eager and ever ready to do something for the Cause, he ventured into a number of less traveled or never traveled paths. In 1977, he initiated for the first time a new kind of teaching campaign- the Nine-Day Teaching Campaign in the upcoming Subang Jaya residential area.  He was able to pool the resources from the central part of the country with daily phone calls to individuals.  The Faith was well proclaimed to the neighboring places and on its success, this kind of teaching campaign was emulated in several other parts of the country.

He initiated the State-Level Women’s conferences across the country starting with Malacca state in 1977. He also organised similar States state-level conferences in the states of Perak, Kedah, Selangor, Pahang, and Negeri Sembilan. A large pool of women arose to serve the Cause in various capacities after the conferences.  The Bahá’í World Centre was accordingly informed of these laudable efforts.

Yet one more new area of teaching that he initiated was the Family Teaching projects. He would organize firesides for families and in most cases, entire families enrolled into the Faith. And in all these campaigns or projects received the full support and blessings from the Local Spiritual Assemblies concerned. Dr. Sreeni was also actively involved in teaching projects held in other parts of the country. On a number of occasions, he had also adopted some new communities and given all the support needed until they could stand on their own feet. Estate communities were not neglected. On a number of occasions, Dr. Sreenivasan had obtained the permission of the estate management to organize firesides in the community halls, with attendance to capacity. One such was the Midlands Estate near Kuala Lumpur. To ensure the teaching went well he took along some believers who were fluent in the Tamil language to give support services, like Maheswaran and Mrs. S. L. Thevar.

Dr. Sreeni had the uncanny talent of detecting which were the new communities that needed much assistance. One such was the Tanjung Malim community that was dormant from the early days of the Cause. Here the family of Mr. and Mrs. Narasiah, fairly new to the Faith, needed assistance in the late 1970s when they became key believers. Dr. Sreeni made weekly visits to deepen them and give talks at firesides organized by the family. It did not take long before the community was on fire. One other community that held a special place in his heart was the Klang Bahá’í Community. He would visit this nascent community every week with other friends till a flourishing community was established there.

It was a great surprise to many that Dr. Sreeni was very much technology savvy, learning and excelling in new technologies. And this was one talent that he displayed till his very last days, adjusting, and adapting to changing times and changing technology. He was generous in sharing the arrival of new knowledge of the Faith with other communities. He was one of the very earliest to possess a slide projector as early as 1970 with which he projected colorful slides of the Holy places in the Holy Land in some other countries. The viewers who saw them for the first time were greeted with astonishment and amazement by those magical slides.  He was one who had the largest collection of talks delivered by prominent visitors to the country and at Conferences, including talks delivered by the Hands of the Cause. Much of these recordings were given to the Bahá’í Publishing Trust in Malaysia.

In 1977, he initiated for the first time the dubbing of the film strips of the Holy Land into the Tamil language, especially for the Tamil speaking believers, who were quite deprived of such materials in their native language at that time. He tapped the talent of Mrs. Narasiah and the author to provide the voiceover for the film strips. He himself went through the translation of the text and made the needed amendments, where needed. The first of the series was on Pilgrimage to the House of the Báb, followed by several others, which all went very well with the Tamil-speaking friends. When the first official recording of Bahá’í songs in the Tamil language was undertaken by the National Teaching Committee in 1982, Dr. Sreenivasan provided assistance in getting them recorded at the Petaling Jaya Bahá’í Centre and had them edited and passed on to the national institution for further action.

When the travels of Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum to the Amazon jungles were filmed, under the title of The Green Light Expedition, a copy was made available to the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia in 1976. Dr. Sreeni got hold of a projector and screened it in many parts of the country, starting with the Petaling Jaya Bahá’í  Centre. He screened the same in the Seremban Bahá’í  Centre and in the community hall of the Escot Estate near the Tanjung Malim town, to name a few.


Dr. Sreeni screens THE GREEN LIGHT EXPEDITION at the Seremban Bahá’í  Centre

Yet one other area where Dr. Sreeni put in much effort was getting families to organize weekly deepening classes at their homes, an effort he initiated in 1984. He himself worked with coordinators from other communities and posted deepening materials to those coordinators. He came up with a curriculum that covered many vital topics of the Faith. This project too went well with the communities.

He introduced a new way of learning messages from the Supreme Body. For each passage, he would insert a question for which the said paragraph itself would come as an answer. That was a novelty by itself by which the participants learned not only quicker but deeper as well.   Whenever he started a deepening class, he would pass around empty pieces of papers on which the participants would write out all the questions and doubts they had without the need to write their names on those papers. He would answer those questions at the first meeting to the extent needed. Those questions that were raised would form the basis for him to gauge their knowledge on the subject and decide on the depth of the deepening materials he had to prepare for the classes to follow.

There was yet one more area of his service that astonished everyone in the community.  He proved to be a very good organizer of events, leaving as far as possible no loopholes. It was at the Summer School of 1972 held in Penang that Dr. Sreeni played the role of Principal. He ensured every aspect was well organized. Thereafter, having moved into Petaling Jaya, the national institution, taking cognizance of his organizational excellence, tasked him to be principal of several  Summer Schools and conferences of large scale. He made it a point to drive to the venue a few days in advance with a checklist and ensured every aspect was well in place. And he was generous in training others to follow suit. In organizing such events of great magnitude Dr. Sreeni ensured he took along other believers who would assume the role of Vice-Principal. To him, no work was half-finished. He used to tell the believers, “When the whole world looks at the horizon, we Bahá’ís should learn to look beyond the horizon.” 

Another inspiring quality of Dr. Sreeni was the voluntary spirit he had within him. And with that voluntary spirit he was among the first to respond so much so that the national institution, national committees, and several individuals felt that if there was one person on whom they could count on for important work for the Cause, Dr. Sreeni became a natural choice. Whenever there was work to be done for the Cause, he would contact the institutions and ask if he too could contribute to some role, however small or big it may be. Dr. Sreeni was always in the mainstream of activities. The one other area where Dr. Sreeni took great responsibility was in receiving visitors from the airport and sending them to the hotel or accommodating them in his own house, and naturally taking them around the country to meet communities. He was always about the first to arrive for community functions. His most liked part of Bahá’í life was the fasting period. He would wake up earlier than many others and ring up members of the community wishing them happy fasting. He would start first with the youths staying in the Bahá’í Centre. The alarm of the clock may fail to ring, but not the calls from Dr. Sreeni!

Dr. Sreeni was a natural, prolific, and gifted speaker at events of all magnitudes, including  Summer Schools, and commemoration of United Nations jointly organized by the community. And the element of stage fear was never in his system. He would take to the floor and address with no prior preparation. And he could move the hearts of the listeners, with choice of the right words and phrases, not leaving out appropriate passages from the Writings.

 

Dr. Sreeni speaks at the Conference of Board members and their Assistants with Counsellor Shantha Sundram held in September 1988 in the NUBE building, Port Dickson

Dr. Sreeni and his talents were well recognized in the wider world as well. He had developed great relationships with many prominent figures in the higher echelon of society, and was well-known in many Non-Government Organizations, including the Pure Life Society in Kuala Lumpur. The Inter-Faith Spiritual Fellowship (INSaF) was yet one more organization into which the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia appointed Dr. Sreeni to represent the Faith. In that organization membered by some 35 different organizations, Dr. Sreeni promoted the Faith by presenting papers at several of its functions.

All his days he was computer savvy and took up teaching the Faith through the internet. Following a talk entitled “Journey of the Soul” that he delivered at the Pure Life Society on 17 June 2006, there were several calls requesting him to set up a website to expand further on that title. That gave birth to the setting up of a blog spot entitled “Journey of the Soul”. He also hosted “The Spiritual Highway site on Facebook. After prayerful meditation, Dr. Sreeni would post passages from the Sacred Scriptures, which would serve as a guide to seekers around the world. The core of his daily messages was, among others, the purpose of creation of every human being, preparing ourselves before our souls leave this human dimension, and endeavoring to get glimpses of the life after. Upon posting the messages, he would spend time answering inquiries from across the globe. He also set up one more website entitled LIGHT OF UNITY in which he wrote articles on the Bahá’í concept of Heaven and Hell. On all his websites he left his telephone contacts and email address, along with his home address for enquirers to contact. And surprisingly many were in constant communication with him seeking clarifications on what he had written. In January 2011, he went on to publish an 89-page e-book, entitled: You Will Not Die: From a Missing Link in Today’s Educational Format. In later years Dr. Sreeni was also making every attempt to get UNICEF to publish a book along the same lines until his health situation slowed him down. History will read that Dr. Sreeni alone has undertaken such a massive and major effort in spreading the Cause through the internet media.

He would wake up at 5:00 in the morning and pray, after which he would send out Bahá’í passages to all the contacts in his WhatsApp, and again reach various parts of the globe. That was an outstanding service that no others had carried out with such zeal and commitment. He was consistent in these two efforts until the year 2018 when he slowed down following a mild heart attack. Even when his health was failing at the end of his days, he attempted to practice what his parents had taught him from his childhood, and which he stepped up after accepting the Faith- to be prayerful all his days. Even when he was not able to stand still or bend down, he, after showering at dawn, forced himself to say the Long Obligatory prayer in privacy, which had difficult actions that followed for an ailing person. As his ailing condition did not enable him to continue the genuflections related to the Long Obligatory Prayer, he had to reluctantly give up.

He always looked for ways and means to serve the Cause in a wide range of services. He had an unmatched driving force. He traveled extensively to support Bahá’í activities in other communities, never turning down invitations received at the last moment. He was a very close confidant of Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Rahmatu’lláh Muhájir and lover of the elders in the Faith. If asked what he would consider as blessings that he would always cherish in his heart, his reply was the blessing to have met in person Hands of the Cause of God Dr. Muhájir, Mr.  Abu’l-Qásim Faizí, Mr. Collis Featherstone, and Mr. Enoch Olinga. Among the many believers whom he loved very much were Mrs. Shirin Fozdar, “Spiritual Mother” of Southeast Asia, Mr. Yankee Leong, the first believer of Malaya, and Inbum Chinniah, the much-loved Counselor. Dr. Sreeni had the painting of  Mr. Yankee Leong’s house in his home. Most of all he was always a strong supporter of the Institutions of the Faith and a defender of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh.


Visiting the Klang community in 1980 in the company of Yankee Leong, seated to the right of Dr. Sreeni


Meeting of members of the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Malaysia and Auxiliary Board Members with Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Muhájir at the National Bahá’í Centre, Kuala Lumpur, 1978. L-R: Isaac D’Cruz, Theresa Chee, Dr. Sreenivasan, Counselor Yankee Leong, Dr. Muhájir, Inbum Chinniah, Shantha Sundram, R. Ganasa Murthi, S. Nagaratnam, S.Balasekaran


With Hand of the Cause of God Mr. A. Q. Faizi at the South East Asia Bahá’í Regional Conference, Port Dickson, 1976


With Mrs. Shirin Fozdar, 1977

For the sake of the Cause, Dr. Sreeni was fully aware that one had to sacrifice much. He had many talents and interests and among these was painting.  He had a natural talent for art, producing beautiful oil paintings in his younger days.  Naturally a creative individual, he brought this quality of creativity into all areas of endeavor, foremost in his service to the Cause.  He never allowed attachment to personal interests to detract him from attending to what was the urgent need of the times.  He consecrated his time, energy, and creativity to the betterment of his fellow man through his joyous and tireless service to the Cause.


Deepening session by Said Khadivian from Los Angeles, USA , 1979. L-R: June Loh, Joan Sinnathamby, Said Khadivian and Dr. Sreeni

His zeal in serving went beyond imagination. He would always be on the lookout for believers with hidden talents and tap those talents to the maximum. He had lovingly urged university students to organize public talks on the Bahá’í Faith at residential hostels. One such grand talk was at the PP Narayanan Hostel in 1977, receiving good publicity for the Faith. When he noticed that some friends were influential in society, he would urge them to organize gatherings in their homes for deepening sessions. A medical doctor he was, and he also led many believers to find spiritual solutions to their physical healing, tests and difficulties. When believers approached him with their personal difficulties, he not only consoled them using the Writings but would urge them to involve themselves in greater levels of service to the Cause.

Dr. Sreeni could also be said to be an ambassador for the Faith in that he promoted the Cause in the widest way possible through his wide circle of contacts locally, nationally and internationally. Having moved into the state of Selangor, Dr. Sreeni started to work in the clinic owned by an insurance firm. That was the MCIS clinic, located at the Jaya Puri Hotel, later named Petaling Jaya Hilton. He held the position of National President of the MCIS clinics in the country. The clinic had visits by very prominent customers of the prestigious hotel for treatment. And his clinic was a self-teaching center, with displays of Bahá’í quotations and photos on the wall. Those prominent patients either acknowledged the presence of Bahá’ís in their respective countries or enquired about the Faith. And he also had several prominent local people coming to see him for consultation, and that included Cabinet Ministers.  He used all these contacts to promote and where needed to protect the Faith. Dr. Sreeni was able to get several Bahá’í youths employed in eminent positions with just phone calls. He was also able to get pending cases of citizenship through his influence. When the national institution formed a task force to distribute the Promise of World Peace Message from the Supreme Body in 1986, Dr. Sreeni became a natural choice to sit on that committee together with a few other believers who moved in the higher echelon of society, including Colonel Dr. G. Gopinath. Dr. Sreeni was able to provide a good number of good contacts for distributing the statement.

There was one other great assistance that Dr. Sreeni was able to render the Cause. With the managerial staff of the Jaya Puri Hotel visiting him for treatment in his clinic he was able to get the conference rooms in the hotel at extremely low rates. That enabled organizing national conventions, large-scale gatherings for talks, and even weddings at that hotel.

As far as possible, his thoughts, deeds, and words were always attuned to the tenets of the Faith. When Jami Subramaniam of Kajang Community wanted to pass over his car registration number of BAB 1844, Dr. Sreeni gladly took over and fixed it on his Toyota Corona Mark Two model car. The registration number itself was a sight to behold for both the local believers and visitors from abroad who traveled in the car. That car had hit all the roads in Malaysia and visited some of the remotest parts as well. In 1981, when Dr. Sreeni was driving to treat a patient, the car met with a major accident and was totally written off. Dr. Sreeni sustained serious injuries and was hospitalized for a month. Several friends visited him in the hospital and the entire Malaysian Bahá’í community in Malaysia prayed for his speedy recovery.  As soon as he was discharged from the hospital he wrote an article in the Malaysia Bahá’í Bulletin entitled “Before You Were Born”, on how God prepares one for coming into the world, and the role of spiritual education by parents after birth. For a long time, Dr. Sreeni was moving with the aid of a walking stick. Yet his indefatigable spirit never waned, and he continued to serve with full force, much to the astonishment of the community.

Despite moving like a meteor in various parts of the country and being involved in various activities at the same time, it is a wonder that he found time for the family. He took good care of the family as a good husband and a great father. He and his beloved wife created a Bahá’í atmosphere at home. He installed a big single tile on the wall of their home with the following passage from a prayer in bold red:

O my God! I ask Thee, by Thy most glorious Name, to aid me in that which will cause the affairs of Thy servants to prosper, and Thy cities to flourish. Thou, indeed, hast power over all things! – Bahá’u’lláh

At home, Dr. Sreeni held table talks over dinner on Bahá’í subjects. Not a week passed without any gathering at his home. Whenever visitors came to Malaysia, more than anyone else he would organize gatherings in his house to meet the community. His beloved wife Molly was exposed to the Faith through Dr. Sreeni, Betty, and through the deepening classes held in the Chaygin Clinic, and was touched by the teachings on progressive revelation, and accepted the Faith in 1971. Molly was the essence of loving hospitality and created an atmosphere of love and comfort for all during these occasions. He also took along family members during his visits away from home while serving whenever possible.


With their four children, L-R: Raj, Omna, Sha’in, and Asha

And he was a proud father of four children who married spouses of different races – he practiced what he believed. And his love and concern were for all in the community. He cared for the welfare of one and all in the community. Whenever he learned of someone in distress, he would visit the person constantly, and pray until the problems afflicting the person were solved.  The pain and sufferings of others became his own burden as well. Thus, he not only believed but also practiced the cardinal teaching of the Faith on becoming one soul in different bodies.

Among the many Bahá’í activities which he was engaged in, the one that was his driving force and greatest passion was his devotion to teaching the Cause, and that he did till his last breath. He was happiest when getting news of teaching activities, and sad to the core of his heart when the activities slowed down. Even while recuperating at the hospital, he was involved in giving the message to the staff there. One would wonder what was the secret of Dr. Sreeni always teaching the Faith, under all situations. Herein lies the passage by `Abdu’l-Bahá that was that propelling force in him, as he would always quote: Where there is love, nothing is too much trouble and there is always time.” 

Dr. Sreeni, standing sixth from left, never missed the company of devoted workers for the Cause. He is at the gathering held in honour of the visit by Mrs. Shantha Sundram and Mrs. Betty Benson in 2004


Dr. Sreeni and Molly with some friends and relatives

Throughout his Bahá’í life, Dr. Sreeni was not heard of backbiting on any person- believer or member from the community of interest alike. Whenever he felt there was an issue, he would take the issue to the national institution and rest the matter at that level. He was very much admired and appreciated as an honest person in organizations where he worked until the end of his life. In his own effective way, he brought in many sympathizers and well-wishers for the Cause.


With A. Ponnusamy (L) and Usha Cheryan from Melbourne (R) at the Bahá’í Summer School held in 2018, the last major event of Dr. Sreeni


Dr. Firaydun Mithaq from Thailand and T. K. Lee from the Subang Jaya community called upon Dr. Sreeni and Molly in August 2018

His precious soul winged its flight into the realms on high at age 90, having served the Cause relentlessly, and with such a driving force seldom seen in others of his time and his age. He was a spiritual father to many individuals and several communities. With his passing, he leaves the inspiration of his life of services in the hearts of many people who knew him.  For all the loving services and sacrifices he had rendered with so much energy and zeal we can be assured that Dr. Sreeni is in the loving arms of Bahá’u’lláh in the next world.

Dr. Sreeni is reciting one of his favorite prayers

 

You may leave your comments at: info@bahairecollections.com

A. Manisegaran

28 February 2022

Copyright@bahairecollections.com

 

43 thoughts on “REMEMBERING DR. SREENIVASAN

  1. Dear brother Mani,
    I fully read your article on the life and times of our brother Dr. M.M. Sreenivasan. I knew him since the days of my declaration of Faith in 1973 in Penang. Undoubtedly he was a towering figure and pillar of the Bahai community especially in Malaysia. I met him many times, the last one was about seven years ago when Mr. Raymond Peter who was staying in my house during his visit from Cambodia. He said a prayer with me with his wife Molly and Raymond Peter. It was really inspiring. I remember he said he was 83 years old. From my view, he is extremely intelligent, with unwavering devotion, humble yet firm in his Faith, non stop work for the Faith until his last breath.

    He came to our house in Kuantan in the 80s and conducted deepening classes. Definitely an excellent example of a true servant of God. He lived a good fruitful long life and his life and work will inspire generations now and the future.

    Mani, your work is superb, posterity will admire and derive tremendous benefit from this great work of yours.

    God Bless you and all.

    Professor Dr. Ananthan Krishnan
    Puchong
    Malaysia

  2. That was a lovely recollection of Dr. Sreeni. He was a good man. He had on many occasions refused to charge medical fees from some of us. He was serving on the Local Spiritual Assembly of Petaling Jaya as a colleague for a short stint. I served as an Assistant to him when he was an Auxiliary Board member. He never exerted his “authority”. He was always loyal in his service and obedient to Institutions. He always talked about the soul.

    May he rest peacefully.

    His wife, Aunty Molly Sulochana was his greatest asset, and a jewel of women, along with Marguerite Fozdar and Beatrice Monteirio (Betty). All such great women in this Dispensation come under the shadow of the Greatest Holy Leaf.

    V. Theenathayalu
    Shah Alam
    Malaysia

  3. We were sorry to learn of Dr Sreeni’s passing last year, a great teacher and lover of Baha’u’llah, regularly engaging the friends in regular emails with the Writings of the Faith, and of course he held regular firesides in his lovely home with Molly his wife as the gracious host. Over the years whenever we visited KL we seized the opportunity to attend, and there were an occasion or two when he would request my wife and me to talk and share our pioneering experiences in Papua New Guinea

    Leong Ho San
    Wollongong
    Australia

  4. Dr. Sreeni became a good friend through our association with his daughters, Asha who pioneered with her husband Mark Sisson and 2 children, and Omna and Bernard Ong her husband, during several occasions when we joined their Ruhi study classes.

    He must be missed very much in the Malaysian community, God bless him for his manifold acts of services to the Community of the Most Great Name!

    Leong Ho San
    Wollongong
    Australia

  5. Hi Mani,
    I was touched by the article you have written on the life of Dr Sreeni. I have met Dr Sreeni several times and am aware that he was an active and vibrant servant of God. He was a good speaker and a great motivator. But I never knew the range and depth of his services until you highlighted them in your story. Viewing his videos and listening to his voice- who would say he his no more around? He is very much around and alive through the story that you have written.

    I have learned more about him through your recollection, and I hope it will inspire more to serve like him.

    Thank you

    Peter Huang
    Klang
    Malaysia

  6. Dear Mani

    Nicely written account on Dr Sreenivasan. It is a great work you are doing on all the past believers who have dedicated themselves in service of the Cause. All the short stories can be compiled into a book. Think about it.

    I have had my fondest recollections of Dr. Sreenivasan. I remember when I resigned and went to Hong Kong with TK Lee. Yin Hong Shuen went slightly earlier and we were serving to the best of our capacities. AS you know the life of pioneers could be testing at times and nobody escapes such situations cropping up in the teaching field. At a time when we were down in spirit some people gave us so much encouragement while some wrote to us letters that inspired us. One was Leong Tat Chee, whose letter I still keep. The other came from Dr. Sreenivasan who was elected secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly in Malaysia during a by election at the end of 1972. He wrote a letter which was not only moving but penetrated into my very soul. That letter was such a consolation at the time when sorrow filled into my heart. He had that power of penetrating into the hearts of the recipients. I also remember reading the Light of the Age and the Berita Bahai newsletters that you had mentioned. Dr Sreeni was a multi talented and multifaceted believer, the like of whom is a rare commodity.

    May his soul rest in peace.

    Teh Teik Hoe
    Shah Alam
    Malaysia

  7. I had known Dr Sreeni as an active believer who was seen in most of our gatherings. There was no direct involvement with him. I had also met his wife Molly and his mother Mrs Achuthan while l was living in Kuala Lipis. They had come over to be with Dr Sreen’s younger brother Dr. Sri Ganesh who was working in the Kuala Lipis Government hospital then.

    I have heard many talks by Dr Sreeni during Summer and Winter schools and during other Baha’i gatherings. One moving talk was that he delivered at the funeral of Ravichandran in Subang Jaya.

    But reading your story tells it all. There is so much depth in your story, on the range of services he had rendered from the time he came into the Faith in 1968. Looks like there was no stone left un-turned. He ventured into every area of service and many of them were pioneer efforts. He is surely guided and motivated by Baha’u’llah to have served with such a determination and commitment. There cannot be too many Dr Sreenis around. That is clear from the story.

    G.K. Balan
    Kuala Lumpur
    Malaysia

  8. Mani,

    I shall always remember my spiritual father, the late Dr Sreenivasan. Also, his loving wife Molly. It was Dr Sreeni who gave the Faith to me and my family. My entire family came into the Faith and he was more than a family member. He was the one who trained my daughter Maralyn in the Faith and even conducted her wedding. He was there for all family functions and my neighbors used to wonder what an Indian man was doing at family functions at a Chinese home. A lot of Bahai activities were arranged in my house which was always packed with visitors and friends. Once my family was well established in the Faith he got me to introduce my Chinese speaking friends and he would organize firesides for them. That was how a few Chinese families came into the Faith

    Dr. Sreeni nurtured me in the Faith and gave me a lot of tasks to carry out for the Faith. He had a great driving force. Two days before the Winter School in Cameron Highlands he drove me to the Cameron Highlands to make sure the bedding and all physical arrangements were in order. He was a perfectionist and tolerated no shady work for the Cause. And he was the Principal at the Winter School and to my surprise he made me the Deputy Principal of the Winter School. He would through unexpected challenges at the last moment and help you come up to handle the challenge. It was in this way that Dr Sreeni trained me and many believers in Malaysia. I remembered Dr Sreeni driving me to many places in the country to meet the friends and we returned past midnight on most of the days.

    I can never forget the time I spent with Dr Sreeni. He shall always be in my memory

    Bernard Wang Teow Teng
    Kuala Lumpur
    Malaysia

  9. Mani
    I do not know Dr Sreeni much in person. But he was well known to Bahai’s those days because he wrote a newsletter called the Light of the Age. In recent years he was active online, teaching the Faith. I remember he was involved in a serious accident long ago in 1981 and his bones were crushed. I was much impressed by how he bounced back to health. He was such a strong and vibrant person!

    You know, there are individuals in the Faith whose embrace of the Faith radiated to others, and they became bulwarks, giving solidity to a fragile, nascent community. You are one giving this community that sense of solidity. Your writing on those who have passed on is an amazing contribution to the community.

    Saratha Sangaran Nair
    Malacca
    Malaysia

  10. Dear Manisegaran
    Thank you for publishing this story on the first day of the Bahai fasting. Reading this story was a good way of starting off the first day of the fasting.

    In the 1980s there were pockets of small communities in Selangor which were struggling to come up. One of them was Kampong Subang where I resided. We had seven families. Dr. Sreenivasan used to visit us regularly to deepen us and give us strength to serve. He spoke good English, but was not well-conversant in the Tamil language, which was the spoken language in my community. He spoke in simple Tamil, and was still able to convey his thoughts clearly. He would simply adjust to simple surroundings of we simple people. Next he would be seen at large gatherings carrying himself well suiting the occasion. He was a good motivator who moved our hearts towards Bahaullah. He always encouraged us to serve and serve and serve. It was largely owing to his visits and encouragement that many in my community were able to grow up in the Faith. He was a very good Auxiliary Board member who gave a listening ear to our problems. I am aware that his heart was always for lifting up small and upcoming communities, new believers and new families. He is well remembered by believers in such small places.

    Today many of those who had been trained by him are serving well and are looking back at the contribution of Dr Sreeni for the Faith.

    Karthi Govindan
    Subang
    Selangor
    Malaysia

  11. Dear Mani,

    A well-researched article you have written on dear Dr. Sreenivasan. He and his beloved family, dear Molly in particular have in many ways shaped our Bahai life and influenced the spiritual development of our children during their formative years. Doubtless, he has impacted lives of innumerable souls within the community and in the wider community.

    Dr Sreeni has translated the provisions in the short obligatory prayer in the most meaning way, into deeds, actions and service, the very moment he recognised Bahaullah till his last breath. He is another fitting example for youth to emulate.

    Mani, the expression “more power to your elbow” as you continue research and write about dedicated Malaysian believers abroad or at home, high or low, heroes or unsung ones, for the Bahai world. Our current generation need to know who these believers are, who came into the Faith during the latter half of the 20th century and their life-long services they contributed to make Malaysia a jewel in the crown.

    If the past 25 years wherein the House of Justice urged friends to engage the spiritual enterprise with “herculean efforts” what more in 9 Year Plan and years to come!

    T.K. Lee
    Subang Jaya
    Malaysia

  12. Dear Mani,

    Thank you for putting together this wonderful recollection of our beloved father.

    You have captured who he was and what he lived for very well by compiling the many stories for which our family is grateful for to remember the first Baha’i in the Sreeni family whose tireless dedication to the Faith served as an example for us all to emulate.

    Thank you also for the many stories that the friends have also shared here for us to remember him. He was and will be always the consummate example of love and service for the Faith.

    He has left behind a wonderful legacy in his grandchildren who are all devout servants of the Faith.

    On behalf of our mother and the four siblings, thank you very much for this.

    Much love,
    Raj, on behalf of the Sreeni Family

  13. The Bahá’í community of Klang where I accepted and grew in the Faith would always regard Dr Sreenivasan and Mrs. Elsa Monteiro as the Spiritual Father and Spiritual mother respectively. They made regular visits to this community to teach, deepen and encourage the new set of believers. Dr Sreeni as we know him was a great teacher of the Faith. It was he who set a strong spiritual foundation for the growth of the Faith in Klang. He was very dedicated and passionate in teaching the Faith. He lovingly and patiently inspire dus to arise to teach the Faith with vigor.

    What the Klang community is today is much to the sacrifice and service of Dr. Sreeni. The names of Dr Sreeni and Elsa can never be erased from the history of the Faith in Klang

    Tan Long Hock
    Kuala Lumpur
    Malaysia

  14. The story has so many details and so many episodes that I never knew. Dr Sreeni did not speak about all those. I am hearing for the first time in this story. I came knew Dr. Sreeni in 1971 when I first met him at his clinic in Bagan Ajam. Dr Sreeni, Auxiliary Board member Madam Betty and I had coffee together.

    Next I moved with him when he came to settle in Petaling Jaya community. I was appointed Assistant to Auxiliary Board member and started meeting Dr. Sreeni very often during some deepening sessions. I gained so much in his deepening classes. He always spoke with so much faith in Bahaullah. He become very close with me at this period when I was staying in Klang.

    To me he was very gentle and kind. I know that he did not charge everyone who sought treatment from him. As for me and my family he just refused to charge money. Generosity, kindness, care and compassion were inbuilt within Dr Sreeni. But he could also be very strict with those who deviated from the Faith, as that was his duty as Board member to protect the Faith.

    I was sad to learn of his passing and I pray for his soul.

    Sandrakasan
    Banting
    Malaysia

  15. Dear Mr.Manisegaran,
    It is really inspiring during this fasting month, to read about your nicely written accounts of the life of Dr .M. M. Sreenivasan. From the day he accepted Baha’u’llah till his last breath, he has consecrated his entire life to the service of the Cause of Baha’u’llah, serving with love, dedication, and consistency.

    I had the privilege of attending a few of his classes. He can truly inspire his audience to become better believers and to serve much better.

    I was also very fond of reading his “Light of the Age” magazine containing several inspiring Baha’i quotations, information and other deepening materials and news items. They were issued as simple cyclostyle copies in booklet format. But it created such a sensation among the readers like me.

    I also fondly remember Dr. Sreeni’s brother Dr Sree Ganesh and his beloved mother Madam Radha Achutan, who both served in the South India Teaching Project in 1977 in the state of Tamilnadu. Despite her age, she would walk miles and miles with we youths at that time, under the scorching heat of the sun and on dusty roads. She followed us village after village, giving the message of Baha’u’llah to everyone. Her radiant smile and loving heart attracted many souls to the Faith.

    Thank you again Mr. Manisegaran, I repeat what others have already said and that is, please continue you wonderful service of recording stories of heroes. Future generations are waiting in their wings to read about the early Malaysian Baha’is.

    Selvam Ellumalai
    Johor Baru
    Malaysia

  16. Thank you for a detail story of Dr Sreenivasan. I did not know him personally but have seen in few national winter and summer schools. He always had pleasant aura about him. It is only through this story that I came to know him well enough, especially his full dedication.
    This story gives people like me and other second generation Bahá’í s in Malaysia and abroad a greater picture of the early heroes of the Faith who played important roles in bringing up the Bahá’í community.

    I personally like his teaching spirit and love for the Faith and his telling someone to do more service in order to come out of difficult situations in life.

    This story is most inspiring in every way and a highly educational one for me. There are so many things that I learnt from the service and sacrifices and the unprecedented areas of service rendered by Dr. Sreeni. One miracle is he rising high in speaking to Tamil speaking friends and conducting spiritualization course in the Tamil language- with no prior training in that language. The moral is this, just arise, leaving every trust in the hands of Bahaullah, and wonders are in store.

    Nehru Arunasalam
    Chicago
    USA

  17. Dr Sreenivasan was a great Bahai teacher who guided and inspired a lot of new believers in many parts of the country. Klang was one region to be mentioned. His services were so magnificent. Despite limitations in the Tamil language he has convinced and influenced many Tamil speaking friends as well. His Tamil speaking ability touched many hearts that were looking for guidance, knowledge and strength.

    I had the privilege of being his assistant during his tenure as an Auxiliary Board member. He had a great wealth of knowledge in the Cause and also as a medical practitioner. His medical advice to some of the friends really helped them in healing many illnesses with his simple remedies along with his love.

    I still remember and admire his smiling approach and the simplicity when dealing with friends. Today those friends and many others miss him a lot. Such a beautiful soul he was. We will always remember him in our prayers . God will certainly bless his soul for eternity. Thank you dear Mr Mani for the brief biography of Dr Sreenivasan.

    Arumugam Thanapah
    Klang
    Malaysia

  18. Dr. Sreenivasan-another one of the early believers who has left behind a great legacy for future generations to emulate and appreciate. His dedication and services for the Cause of God are beyond our thankfulness and gratitude. Those were the days when many had to labour hard enough to proclaim the Faith to the multitudes. There were few but their reach out was tremendous. His nine-day teaching campaign in Subang Jaya was an example. The time spent for all those phone calls, and field work come as a feat alongside his other duties, tasks for his family. And he balanced his time between the Faith and the family
    The numbers of hearts he must have touched are indeed unbelievable And how so many generations of Baha’is sprout henceforth from his teaching and deepening classes. Malaysia is indeed one of the countries with a large number of believers and this is owing to the efforts of these stalwarts.

    Merican
    Singapore

  19. Dear Mani,
    Once again your research has unearthed another great believer who shall be remembered for posterity in our history. Clearly Dr. Sreeni’s entire life seems to have been enveloped by inspiring teaching and deepening works, apart from many areas of new and unprecedented areas of service. Having read his services rendered in the early period of the growth of the nascent Faith in the country, I can say that his was a path less travelled.

    His slightly more than five decades of uninterrupted service for the Cause is a lesson for us to emulate. I remember in the 1980s he visited us in the Mentakab community in the state of Pahangfor a deepening programme. It was an upcoming community at that time and his visit assisted in the strengthening of the community. We admired him for his radiant smile. He could just captured his listeners.

    I last met him at the Winter School in Ipoh in 2018. When I introduced myself he was able to remember the trip he made to Mentakab After a while we conversed in our mother tongue which is Malayalam. His relentless work in promoting the Cause both within and outside the community of the Greatest Name is a lesson for us to emulate. Dr Sreeni shall always be remembered as a steadfast servant of the Covenant of the Blessed Beauty.

    Jayanthan
    Kuantan
    Malaysia

  20. Dear Mani,

    As usual you have done a marvellous job writing about Dr. Sreeni.

    Reading about him brings back memories of the times my husband, Balan and myself used to go to his home in Taman Megah for the deepening sessions on Fridays and devotional gatherings on Sundays. We really enjoyed the sessions with his wife, Molly too.

    Dr Sreeni loved the Faith so much that, he kept himself so busy, always wanting to do something for the Cause. His favourite subject was “Life after death” I used to wonder how he got so much energy to go on and on researching and speaking on different aspects of the Faith. He was really my mentor!

    May his soul rejoice in the Abha realm.

    Maureen Balan
    Petaling Jaya
    Malaysia

  21. Dr Sreeni was not only a committed and active Baha’i but also understood well how to consolidate and motivate the community, in particular the youth. And loving all. One of his outstanding contributions was his regular Baha’i newsletter published from his clinic in Butterworth, which he not only wrote, edited, printed on the cyclostyle printer machine and posted to many across the country. Am one of the recipients of this marvellous informative and news worthy newsletter. And it was given free for many! Getting the newsletter out on cyclostyle machine was real cumbersome as word mistakes on the printing film had to be patched up with special liquid and do all over again. But he did it patiently for the love of the Faith.

    He and his wife Molly would have youth at their house for regular deepening sessions and firesides. I remember going there to practice for musical firesides with his children and other Baha’i youth. He was a regular traveller visiting many in various places. There are two Baha’is I enjoyed most travelling with for teaching visits. One was Dr Sreeni and the other was James Liew as they both liked driving very fast! It was simply exciting. Perhaps it reflected the way he did things in that you need to move quickly, sharply and not procrastinate. Indeed, Dr Sreeni was one of the memorable Baha’is I had the honour and privilege to know and associate with as a young Baha’i youth. A legend in many ways.

    Professor Dr. Jimmy Seow
    Perth
    West Australia

  22. Dr Sreeni was such an inspiration to the Bahai community. His enthusiasm and love for the Faith was infectious.

    My memory of him was someone who constantly taught the Faith with much affection, commitment and love. Apart from the many fond memories, there was one instance when we had lunch together in a restaurant in Kuala Lumpur after many years. This was my last meeting with him. We were standing in the lobby and without any concern and hesitation, I noticed that he stopped passers-by to let them know about Baha’u’llah and then gave them his business card. This incident was always in my mind whenever I thought of him. In that same incident, he also took my sister’s phone number so that he could send her Bahai information. He taught me to be courageous and not to miss an opportunity to share Bahaullah’s mission.

    Mong Leng Connel
    Perth
    Australia

  23. Dear Mr. Manisegaran,
    First of all, I would like to thank you for writing lovely memories of Dr. M.M. Sreenivasan. I have learnt so many things that I never knew of Dr Sreeni. He has served in many capacities, visited many communities, and won the hearts of many. Here I would like to share my memories. While I was in Rantau town in the state of Negeri Sembilan Dr Sreeni came for a fireside organized at the house of the late Uncle Satanam. The inspiration, kindness, and smiling approach really touched the enquirers. I too was personally touched by that kind of gesture seldom seen in many others. He was a great teacher of the Faith. He also had the great ability to motivate his audience through his talks at Winter schools and summer schools. I was one of those motivated at his talk at a Winter School held in Port Dickson.
    May His precious soul progress in the Abha Kingdom. I will always keep him in my prayers.

    Thank you again for continuing with your wonderful stories of the star servants of our beloved Faith.
    Regards

    G. Jayamaran (Raja)
    Mongolia

  24. Thank you for your very great efforts in unearthing so many yet unnoticed paths tread by Dr Sreeni. What an intoxicated lover of Baha’u’llah. He has been. Even the naming ceremony of his fourth child turned out to be a platform for proclaiming and teaching His Cause. He had employed every means of teaching the Faih- from conventional method of dissemination of the Teachings to this day’s modern media coverage, Dr. Sreeni has been playing a unique role quite unequal to his contemporaries. Surely his soul is mingling with the angels and concourse on high in the Abha Kingdom.

    God bless him

    Koh Kuang Wang
    Port Dickson
    Malaysia

  25. I got to know Dr Sreenivasan when I moved to Petaling Jaya in 1974. Dr Sreeni was a pillar in the community, always active in teaching the Faith. He also encouraged youths in the local community to teach. I attended some of his weekly home firesides with some of my contacts. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to accompany him to Kuantan town for a Bahai meeting. Dr Sreeni was also regarded as a fast driver. He told me that one day he drove Mummy Fozdar (Mrs. Shirin Fozdar) for a meeting out of town. As usual he drove quite fast. He asked her whether his driving was too fast, but the brave Mummy Fozdar told him, “No. Go faster!”

    Tan Keat Fong
    AUSTRALIA

  26. Dear Mani

    Read your beautiful, albeit a narration of Dr Sreenivasan.

    It brought back some fond memories of my early days in Butterworth as a young and rather “lost” Bahai youth in the early 70’s. Having completed the MCE examinatons and spending time hiking, camping and engaging in all sorts of adventures; the sort of things that youth of those days would typically do during the school breaks. It so happened that one day, while playing a game of hockey with a group of friends, one of them by the name of Sugunasegaran invited me to his home that evening for a ‘fireside’ saying a Doctor was coming to talk about the Baha’i religion. Out of curiosity and nothing else to do, I decided to attend. The venue was a Government quarters in Jalan St Mark.

    Having arrived at the house, I noticed a group of friends seated out in the garden waiting for the Doctor to arrive. A large number of youths were present too; from dear friend Arumugam, Selvaraju and Kumaran to name a few. We were somehow connected and knew each other coming from a small town. This was the first time that I was coming face to face with Doctor Sreeni.

    Dr Sreeni was fired with enthusiasm when he started talking about the Faith. I vaguely recall him talking about progressive revelation. His distinct style of speaking; assertiveness and confidence inspired the crowd. There was a question-and-answer session which sometimes prompted fiery responses from the seekers and Doctor himself !

    In hindsight, whether we understood much of what was said that evening didn’t matter to most of the youth in the crowd. It was the start of the exploratory journey of discovering the Faith. The youths somehow got engaged in the Bahai “activities” and I guess one of the drivers pulling the youths together was my late brother-in-law Selva. He was passionate about the Faith and always shouldering the newly enrolled friends with encouragement and support. We gathered every other evening at Doctor’s Clinic which had doubled up at the Butterworth Baha’i Centre for activities, which was typically deepening classes and some teaching activities. The bond that brought the youths together quickly was the enthusiastic fellowship. Senior youths like Krishnaveni and Kanabaran were our mentors. Doctor Sreeni was the guiding beacon for the youths. A room in his Clinic was dedicated for youth meetings and gatherings every Thursday of the week.

    Hence started my journey of discovery of the Faith through Dr Sreeni. Two years later in 1973, I left for the United Kingdom for studies and though it was a short period of connection with the Doctor and the Butterworth youths then, it left some fond memories and a wisdom of being drawn to the Faith in circumstances that I could not fathom for many years to come.

    When I was applying for my international passport to get to the United Kingdom it was a requirement then that the application had to be supported by a Government Official or someone who was of public standing. I had approached Dr Sreeni for help and he without blinking an eye lit signed off the application immediately.

    During the Penang summer school in 1972, I became ill on the third day of the school and decided to get back home. It was again Dr. Sreeni, who came to my rescue. He got me back home in the middle of the night and dropped me off at home. Such was his care and kindness.

    One treasured piece of work that Dr Sreeni did during this period were the deepening materials on the Faith that he took so much of effort to ensure that we youths were exposed to the Writings of the Faith. He would type and cyclostyle materials after materials meticulously on varied subjects for our deepening classes. He would of course liberally share these materials to anyone who needed it then. During this period when books and sharing of knowledge was limited, these deepening materials were a store of treasured knowledge for all of us.

    We also had a great opportunity to touch base with visitors, pioneers, travel teachers who often drop by the Butterworth Centre then. Dr Sreeni would seize the chance to organize meetings for the friends and enquirers in which the youths were actively involved.

    Although in the later part of the 90’s, I had limited contact with Dr Sreeni, except for moments that I would bump into him during national events, it would give me a great pleasure to go up to him to say hello and to share a moment of the yester years in Butterworth. His sharp memory, even in his later age, recalling names and events at ease surprised everyone who happened to be around him. It was a joy talking to him.

    To the man, who gave a glimmering of the Faith and accompanied and natured us, I would like to say thank you Dr Sreeni and may Baha’u’llah grant you His bountiful favours in the spiritual realm for your dedication and service for the Cause for half a decade. You have no doubt left a legacy for many of the generation of the Baha’is in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

    With my heartfelt prayers for the progress of your beloved soul.

    Sandran Govindasamy
    Subang Jaua
    Malaysia

  27. What a fascinating and inspiring story on the life of the man fondly remembered as “Dr. Sreeni”. From the day of recognizing Baha’u’llah Dr. Sreenivasan devoted his entire life to the promotion of the Faith in Malaysia with such a zeal and commitment to the last breath. Indeed, he walked the path of untiring service, from teaching, deepening, consolidating the community with numerous kinds of activities, providing his home and clinic to be used as the center for gatherings and the Bahai activities. He had a great role in nurturing the youths and adults. Among his notable services were the creating and distribution of the Bahai news and deepening bulletin called “The light of the Age”, organizing Bahai conferences, training the youths in the path of their service, serving with vigor in the local and national spiritual assemblies, serving as a member of the Auxiliary Board, and organizing women gatherings for teaching and community service.
    I came to know Dr. Sreeni better since I befriended him in 1968 when he had just moved into Butterworth. From the beginning of our interactions, we found numerous common grounds, especially in studying, learning, and exploring the new avenues of promoting and strengthening the new communities. In him, I saw a mentor that could nurture my thirst for growth in the arena of service. As a young pioneer in Laos in my mid-twenties I had seen the mass-teachings there and was keen to learn about the ways of deepening and training the masses of believers who had enrolled into the Faith. It was then that I found Dr. Sreeni as a capable and reachable resource person in satisfying that need to some extent. I would travel from Vientiane to Butterworth by bus and train for two days to see him in order to get the nourishment that I needed. Dr. Sreeni and his dear wife Molly poured their loving care on me and took care of my spiritual growth and medical needs.

    Dr. Sreeni always had a keen regard for pioneers, especially for those that came from Iran. Perhaps he thought that since we came from the land of Baha’u’llah and were raised in Bahai families we must be learned in the Writings. He often discussed questions from the heavy Bahai Writings such as the Kitabi-I Iqan, Kitab-I-Aqdas, and books like The Paris Talks, and God Passes By. On many occasions I found that I was a novice and did not have a clear answer to his specific questions. Fortunately, in discussing them we found the answers that we were searching for. And when he moved to Kuala Lumpur and conducted his medical practice in a prestigious hotel, I travel more often to see him. Then, when Laos fell in the hand of the socialistic government in May 1975, the Board of Counsellors, on which I was serving advised me to move to Hong Kong and subsequently, by the recommendation of the Hand of the Cause Dr. Muhajir to South Korea and China to serve the Faith. That reduced the frequency of my meeting with Dr. Sreeni to once or twice a year. But the physical distancing did not change the nature of our relationship and empowerment as we exchanged thoughts and corresponded through letters. I visited Dr. Sreeni, Molly, and their children in two subsequent years just before his passing to the Abha Kingdom. By that time he was already bedridden.

    God bless his radiant soul. He did an incredible service to the Cause of God to the utmost of his ability and his life came to an end, leaving a profound legacy in our history.

    Dr.Firaydun Mithaq
    Chieng Mai
    Thailand

  28. I read the moving and highly informative story on Dr. Sreenivasan. That was truly a remarkable and inspiring story of a servant of God. I was very inspired by his dedication, love and the faith he had in Bahaullah. I happened to meet him once before his passing when the family had shifted to Setia Alam.

    He is an inspiration to all the new generation of believers. He lived the life serving the Cause all his days and has left behind a legacy.

    Ranjitta Ruby

    Kulai
    Malaysia

  29. Dear Manisegaran,

    You have written about one great believer who deserves to be remembered in history and treasured in my heart as well for all the wonderful services carried out during his fifty years of Bahai life. These are the kind of believers who have made the community and the Faith proud.

    I first met Dr Sreeni when I accepted the Faith in 1976. He was an Auxiliary Board member, and was of a very energetic personality. He used to keep pressing that Teaching is the Most Meritorious of all Deeds. Now wonder he was always teaching the Faith to someone or somewhere through some program. He believed in doing what he preached.

    When I first met Dr. Sreeni in 198=76 he screened the film “The Green light Expedition” which documented the travel teaching of Amatul Baha in the jungles of the Amazon, in Brazil. The late Mr. Rama Naidu invited us new believers in Kinta Valley estate near the town of Batu Gajah to Bidor town where Rama Naidu lived. The night of our arrival at his house Dr. Sreeni sceened the film. That one film created a great impact on me.
    A few months later Dr. Sreeni came to the Bahai centre in Ipoh town and gave a talk on Life after Death. I still remember Dr Sreeni arriving with some charts drawn on two manila cards. His explanation was very clear as he quoted from The Gleanings from the Writings of Bahaullah That too was very inspiring and that topic then became his favourite. .

    Two years later in 1978 he visited the Kinta Valley estate where I was residing and gave a talk on the Bahai Faith. After the talk he came to my house for lunch with our community. The members of the community were very touched to see Dr Sreeni adjusting and adopting to simple surroundings and ejoying simple food prepared by us simple people. Preaching on the stage is one thing, and practicing what was preached is another thing. In most cases these two do not go hand in hand. But here was Dr Sreeni who practiced what he preached. That one visit by Dr Sreeni to mynhouse topartake of the food would go very deep into my heart.

    When I learnt that he was not doing well I rang him and spoke to him. He could not converse nor remember me well. After some explanation of the meeting in Kinta Valley estate, he was able to recollect vividly. After some lovely conversation he told me to visit him in his house should I travel from Miri in East Malaysia to West Malaysia. He promised to organise a gathering of friends to meet me at his home. Before I could go over, news reached me that he had ascended to the Abha Kingdom. He may have gone, but shall always be well remembered. I know for a fact that Bahaullah will remember Dr. Sreeni as the He had categorically stated: O SON OF BEING! Make mention of Me on My earth, that in My heaven I may remember thee, thus shall Mine eyes and thine be solaced.”

    DoraiVethanayagam
    Miri
    Sarawak

  30. Dear Mani, many thanks for another well written story on our dear Dr Sreeni. He’s very much loved and admired by the Baha’i community. Truly another great teacher of the Cause that had motivated and inspired many souls to arise and serve humanity. Guess his many talents, zeal, humour and creativity are also shown in his children and grandchildren, who had contributed remarkably in their own ways to follow his footsteps. It’s a bounty to have met and known him and his family in many occasions be it at Baha’i events, NGOs-Pure Life Society, Interfaith groups, his talks and sharings in “The Spiritual Highways”. Dr Sreeni who’s now in the company of the Blessed Beauty will always be remembered in our prayers.

    Dr. Leong Yow Peng
    Subang Jaya
    Malaysia

  31. I had the privilege of associating myself with Dr Sreeni in organising the South East Asia Conference in the NUBE building in Port Dickson in December 1976 and a winter school in Cameron Highlands in 1979 Dr. Sreeni was an excellent organiser in these two events. He will delegate works to each person accordingl to their capability. Also as an assistant to the Dr Sreeni who was a Board member he gave very good training sessions to the assistants. He prepared his training manual very well. One will feel very enlightened and possess clarity of thought as to one’s duties after attending the training session and always looked forward to the next training session!

    Yong Siew Kang
    Port Dickson
    Malaysia

  32. ‘One consecrated soul is preferable to a thousand other souls. If a small number of people gather lovingly together, with absolute purity and sanctity, with their hearts free of the world, experiencing the emotions of the Kingdom and the powerful magnetic forces of the Divine, and being at one in their happy fellowship, that gathering will exert its influence over all the earth’- Abdu’l-Baha

    Dr Sreenivasan along with the early stalwarts of the Faith had greatly sacrificed and consecrated their lives to the building of the early Baha’i communities throughout Malaysia. We are indeed blessed with such noble souls.

    I had a brief encounter with Dr. Sreenivasan. Raymond Song and I were in Kuala Lumpur in 1979 waiting for our visa and flight ticket to pioneer to South Korea. During one of the evenings, we joined Dr Sreenivasan in his car(BAB1844) for a teaching trip to Jenjarom Chinese Village. All I could remember was that he was a fast driver along the long and winding road.

    May God bless his soul.

    Thank you brother Manisegaran for this beautiful inspiring story of Dr Sreenivasan

    Santhanasamy
    Kuala Terengganu
    Malaysia

  33. Dr. Sreeni came into the scene at Butterworth in 1968 like a whirlwind, when he set up Chaygin Clinic. It became the scene and gathering place of so many Baha’i activities for meetings, youth gatherings, deepening, teaching and proclamation activities. Many of the youths in Butterworth owe their spiritual growth and maturation to this spiritual giant of the Faith. Some of the youths were inspired and took up the challenge and pioneered or travel teach to other countries. Among them who responded and pioneered to Loas/ Thailand was the late Kannabaran who has left a legacy in both these countries. Also many of the meetings of the Area Teaching Committee of Penang and North Perak were held at Dr Sreeni’s Clinic, who was seen constantly on his typewriter editing the newsletter, Light of the Age during the lull moments in between seeing the patients.

    Dr Sreeni’s depth and understanding of the Holy Writings is truly admirable and a shining light. May his soul earn eternal bliss in the Abha Kingdom.

    Wong Meng Fook
    Singapore

  34. Another amazing story of an amazing person, teacher of the Faith, motivator, initiator, planner, public speaker and many more! Legends live even after death, as I heard people say and I personally feel that Dr. Sreeni is well suited for such a caption. Though I have not known Dr. Sreeni personally but only through Zoom prayers meetings– a platform where we often exchanged views on certain topics of discussion and we became close to each other, I suppose. I admired his profound knowledge of the Faith and courage to put forth issues based on the Writings without any hesitation. His story is full of such wisdom, spiritual energy and highest level of dedication. This wonderful recollection about him is but a reservoir of information which you have painstakingly unearthed and brought to light. 

    While reading his story, it came to my mind these verses from the Bible; Matthew 7:7: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Another quote of the Blessed Beauty, “Know thou of a truth that the seeker must, at the beginning of his quest for God, enter the Garden of Search…He must search after the truth to the utmost of his ability and  exertion, that God may guide him in the paths of His favour and the ways of His mercy. For He, verily, is the best of helpers unto His servants. He saith, and He verily speaketh the truth: “Whoso maketh efforts for Us, in Our ways shall We assuredly guide him.” Dr. Sreeni was so sincere in his search for a new religion and thanks to the early stalwarts; through whom the former found his heart’s desire. It’s a coincidence that after having read his great story, I tend to remember him often each time I read the famous prayer for spiritual growth, O God, Refresh and gladden my spirit.

    I admire his ambition to learn just anything, new skills, new technology etc which he used for the benefit of the Faith. The Master says, “Knowledge is not enough; we hope by the Love of God we shall put it into practice.” I reckoned that was exactly Dr. Sreeni had been doing it. Suddenly, I feel I have become one of his great fans! He is highly inspirational to everyone, great example young and old alike, great blessings to the Malaysian Baha’is and the Baha’i world. He with the early stalwarts had greatly sacrificed for what we are benefiting now — enjoying the company of enthusiastic, fervent and dedicated Baha’is throughout Malaysia and abroad. May his radiant soul finds everlasting tranquility and spiritual contentment in the company of the choicest ones in the eternal kingdom.

    With profound love and admiration,

    Vela Gopal
    Phnom Penh
    Cambodia

  35. I moved from tht town of Alor Star to Butterworth around mid 1971 to start work at Malayawata Steel Factory in the town of Prai. It was during this brief period of around one year that I was introduced to Dr. Sreenivasan and his wife Molly at the Chaygin Clinic, Bagan Jermal by some of the youths like Arumugam, Kumaran, Vijaya Segaran and the late Kannabaran, to name a few.

    Dr. Sreeni’s regular deepening sessions on the Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah at the Chaygin Clinic after his clinic hours provided the motivation and inspiration to all of us. The combination of the strengths of both Dr. Sreeni and Molly in their genuine expression of kindness and love towards the youths was a great motivation especially for me. I enjoyed the deepening sessions and soon Dr. Sreeni set me on the path of teaching at Sungai Bakap, a nearby town. Every time I got down from the bus, Sungai Bakap seemed so huge and enormous task for me. It was during these challenging times that I would always remember Dr. Sreeni’s words of wisdom on the total reliance on Baha’u’llah and the power of Divine Assistance.Soon Sungai Bakap became a my favorite teaching area with many new friends.

    Dr. Sreeni had his own style of encouraging and motivating the youths to be engaged in teaching the Faith through his regular deepening in his favorite Bahai Writings- The Hidden Words….
    The leadership provided by Dr. Sreeni to all the youths into their early Baha’i life had in the later years produced great heroes who are still serving the Cause magnificently.

    Ramachandran
    Kuala Lumpur
    Malaysia

  36. I read the story on the life and times of our Dr. M. M. Sreenivasan. I did not get to know him much but have seen him in many gatherings including at the Bahai centre of Puchong. To be honest I was scared to approach him in those days at the gatherings because of his vast knowledge in the Faith. He was very vibrant and a good speaker too.

    But I never knew the range and depth of his services until I read them in your story. He is very much around and alive through the story that you have written. Your story gives people like me and other second generation Bahá’ís in Malaysia and abroad a greater picture of the Bahais who played important roles in bringing up the Bahá’í community. Keep it up your great job, which is a gift of God to you. May Bahaullah bless you always.

    Rajeswary Puchong
    Malaysia

  37. Dr. M.M. Sreenivasan deserves to be praised and remembered for all the great services he had rendered during the past half a century. His is surely a path less traveled.

    I had personally known this dynamic believer when I was residing in the town of Taiping in the state of Perak. Perak. The entire town of Taiping knew him well on account of his active involvement in the local social organizations . When he accepted the Faith be was full of spirit and enthusiasm and was a great asset.

    I was personally touched by his monthly newsletter called Light of the Age and later the Berita Bahai. They contained success stories of individuals in teaching fields, activities of the communities and inspiring Writings as well. At a time when many of us were coming up in the Faith, with little literature his newsletters gave us so much spirit and energy to move forward. They were truly inspiring deepening tools. Each month I used to be enthusiastically waiting to receive it by post. Those days postal letters were collected at a common place in the estate office. The office staff and the postman too became curious to know what I was reading as the newsletters were in the English language. My parents were very supportive over me reading the newsletters thinking I was learning the English language. They were happier when they learned that the newsletter was about the Bahai Faith.

    Whenever I met Dr Sreeni, he used to hug me and his hugs were very warm and sincere. He always wanted to know about the growth of the Faith in Bagan Serai and Taiping towns which he used to visit from time to time for teaching work. Dr. Sreeni is a dynamic force to be remembered forever/

    He is greatly remembered in my prayers.

    R. Gopal
    Sungei Petani
    Malaysia

  38. My dear Baha’i brother Manisegaran,

    While reading the beautiful and wonderful story of our dear Dr. Sreeni, I learned so many new things.

    In fact, I first knew him face to face and we used to talk many things in the Zoom Meetings which organized by my close friend Dr. Kumar Rajagopal. Dr. Sreeni was actively participating and he had a vast knowledge in all religions. His knowledge of the Baha’i Faith was so deep and vast as well.

    I was happy to learn that his mother, wife and all children accepted the Faith. Reading the story reveals that Dr. Sreeni is a believer of a rare kind, with so many talents and involved in a very vast area of activities over 50 years.

    I shall always be thankful and grateful to the Baha’i Recollections Historical Blog as it publishes a lot of beautiful and wonderful stories of steadfast believers of Baha’u’llah who really served and dedicated their entire lives in the service of the Cause of Baha’u’llah. They inspire the readers to serve the Cause of Baha’u’llah as what the characters in the stories had done.

    And among the stories this story of Dr. Sreeni shall be well remembered.

    Jaya Raju Thota
    Greater Visakhapatnam
    Andhra Pradesh
    INDIA

  39. Dear Mani
    You have penned a very inspiring story of Dr Sreenvivasan. Although I had known Dr Sreeni in the early days, it was only through your heavily researched story that I learned more about him. Surely he and his story will inspire more friends to serve like him.

    Dr Sreeni was a great Bahai teacher. He had the talent of inspiring his audience to become better believers and to serve much better. He had guided and inspired a lot of new believers in Butterworth.

    In almost all the evenings he held regular firesides in his lovely home, which was the Chaygin Clinic in Bagan Jermal Road, with his wife Molly serving as a gracious host. All the youths then had a wonderful bonding and were very closely connected to Dr. Sreeni’s family. He urged the youths during that time to be independent and inspired them to go out teaching regularly. He even gave them financial support to open up new areas to the Faith and he too moved along with them. Among them some have arisen to serve as pioneers. He encouraged the youths to attend Bahai gatherings. He was generous, kind and caring person.

    I shall always remember my spiritual father, the late Dr Sreenivasan. Also, his loving wife Aunty Molly and their children. He shall always be in my prayers and live forever in my memory.

    Arumugam Munusamy
    Butterworth
    Malaysia

  40. Dear Mr. Mani

    Thank you for bringing to light the story of Dr. Sreeni, a dedicated teacher of the Cause of God. I was not acquainted and not knowing his early Bahai life, till I got an opportunity to read it from your recollections.

    In fact, he had served the Cause in different capacities as you had highlighted. Although he had served briefly as a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia, his greatest impact had been as an Auxiliary Board member. He had used various methods to reach people of different capacity and had accomplished many discourses with intellectuals and people of high calibre.

    I came to know him well, in the 1970s at Summer and Winter Schools. His workshops and classes aided me to rise a greater height in the understanding of the Faith. In May 1977, when I was supposed to go for pioneering to India, I stayed for 2 days in the National Bahai Centre in Setapak with the caretaker Mr. Rama Rao. There was a call around 10.00 pm from the state of Sarawak where the National Convention was going on. Mr. Ganasan who was on the line told Rama Rao that the meeting of the newly elected Assembly was on and therefore some urgent information was needed from Mr. Yin Hong Shuen who was at that time in Port Klang. Ramarao passed the message to Dr. Sreeni, who at once drove to Port Klang. I was a young guy of age 22, who was very much touched on his gesture.

    Apart from Dr Sreeni, I am aware that he brought his mother Mrs Achuthan and brothers Anand and Dr Sree Ganesh into the Faith. Dr Sree Ganesh, was the Project Manager of the South India Teaching Project and had created a great impact with his organisational ability in that project. Thus, the family’s contribution is outstanding and will be remembered.

    The last I met Dr Sreeni and his wife Molly was in our Kuala Selangor cluster meeting in 2018 at the residence of Mr. Kumar Rajagopal. All of us in our community attended his deepening on the soul and life after death. He called it life after life. The good meeting was followed by a song session. He was inspired and full of enthusiasm when I sang and got everyone to sing the famous song – ‘Ragupathy Ragava Raja Ram’ in Hindi. That was followed by the Bahai version ‘Sab bolo ka Bahaullah naam bojo pyare sabe Abha ka naam, Allahuabha bolo Allahuabha bolo sabe bolo Ya ‘Bahaullah ‘Abha.

    That was the last meeting, when Dr. Sreeni was slowing down owing to age and physical disability. But his energy and spirit never slowed down with age. His soul must have met his old friends in the realms of God.

    Pitamboro Komoro Naiko
    Puncak Alam,
    Kuala Selangor
    Malaysia

  41. My first memory of meeting Dr. Sreenivaasan or Dr. Sreeni as he is fondly remembered was in the home of my spiritual father, the late Mr. Appu Raman, when I was about 10 or 11 years old. His tall and stately figure gave the impression that he must be a very important person among the Bahá’ís. After accepting the Faith when I was 19, I remember a gathering at the Setapak Bahá’í Centre in Kuala Lumpur where he was giving a talk, at that time as an Auxiliary Board member. Though I can’t recall the subject of his talk, I still remember his commanding expressions, urging the friends to serve, and stressing on the words of the Supreme Body. From that brief encounter we became well acquainted, and when I started assisting the late Mr. Inbum Chinniah, who was then a Counsellor and secretary of the Continental Board of Counsellors for Southeast Asia, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Sreeni several time at Mr. Inbum Chinniah’s office in Setapak. It was only when I started working at the National Office of the Spiritual Assembly in Jalan Angsana, Setapak, soon after the sudden and untimely passing of dear Mr. Inbum, that my close friendship with Dr Sreeni began.

    Monday Deepening

    Many Bahá’í youth in Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur in the early 80s will remember the Monday deepening classes at the home of Dr. Sreeni and Aunty Molly. The significance of these sessions was that apart from his own talk, he would arrange for an invited guest to speak, but more importantly, one of the youth attending will be called upon to give a short presentation at the next session or a later session, being given ample time to prepare. I had the wonderful experience, or rather training I would say, to make several presentations at these Monday classes. In between the assignment, Dr Sreeni will call personally, giving encouragement and pointers for the assignment. His personal “accompaniment” as we would say these days, was like that of a parent nurturing the child for service to the Cause. Personally, I am ever so grateful for these sessions as they helped me to overcome the fear of addressing a crowd. It was a totally different environment for me at that young age, coming from a rural background and with no courage to speak before a crowd. And these assignments of Dr Sreeni were like training ground for later years of active service.

    From the Desk of Dr. Sreeni
    The friends who attend the deepening classes would receive by post every week a letter titled “From the Desk of Dr Sreeni”. These letters would include many choice quotations from the Writings, highlight pertinent points from the recent messages of the Universal House of Justice and of any recent calls to service from the National Assembly addressed in its Feast Messages. The best part for the youth who gave a presentation at the Monday session was to see the story of the past session, how it was well received by the participants, and Dr Sreeni’s encouraging words of praise of the young speaker. I has more than my share of praises in these letters for the talks I gave at his home. Like me, many of my peers of those youthful years were encouraged to see their names in those letters accompanied by words of praise and encouragement.

    Sessions at the Jaya Puri Hotel
    Many of us will recall with delight the series of talks by several scholars and prominent Bahá’ís held at the Jaya Puri Hotel (latter to become PJ Hilton). As Dr Sreeni’s office was located at the basement part of Jaya Puri hotel, Dr Sreeni was often tasked by the National Assembly to make the physical arrangements and play host to the guest speaker. One of the most memorable series of talks was by Mr Saeid Khadivian on the Kitab-i-Iqan. I can testify that several believers started the habit of studying the Iqan and other Holy Writings more systematically after these inspiring sessions. Dr Sreeni had a large set of typed notes on the Kitab-i-Iqan from Mr. Khadivian which he treasured. I had the pleasure of receiving these notes some time later and shared it with the late Mr Anthonysamy, who used it fruitfully in creating an invaluable study guide to his Tamil translation of the Iqan. My memory of the series of talks by Mr Afshin, Dr Iraj Ayman, Dr H.M. Munje and others, are still vivid, and in all these events the presence of Dr Sreeni playing host or person in attendance remains as a sweet memory of him. He would invest his resources to make cassette recordings of these talks.

    Tamil talks
    Although Dr Sreeni understood the Tamil language quite well, coming from a Malayalee background, he was not well versed or proficient in it. But this was never an issue for him, and one of the qualities I admired in him was his unflinching courage to give talks and presentations in Tamil. This sometimes creates moments of laughter and teasing among the friend, but his courage and love overcame the inadvertent errors, and the friends enjoyed it thoroughly. In one of his talk he used the word ”naragam” (which means hell) instead of “nagaram” (which means town or city). Laughter and giggles echoed all around. But the concept was delivered appropriately. I had several opportunities of helping him to prepare Overhead Projector slides, and in later years PowerPoint slides in Tamil. Knowing he can’t read Tamil, I asked him how he is going to know what is being presented, he said somehow Baha’u’llah will assist him. Over the years I have seen many friends far more capable in the Tamil language shying away from giving a presentation in Tamil, but these instances remind me of the courage that Dr Sreeni displayed, not to look at our shortcomings and weaknesses when it comes to serving the Cause.

    Unrestrained as the wind
    Once I was on a teaching trip to Bentong town in the state of Pahang, and in our team was a young Chinese girl who had accepted the Faith through Dr Sreeni. As the people we were about to meet in Bentong were from Chinese background, this kind soul offered to assist us in this teaching trip. I was so amused that throughout the journey back and forth, this young lady kept repeating “Dr Sreeni said this” and “Dr Sreeni said that”. In addition to teaching her the Faith, Dr Sreeni had instilled in her such a deep desire to teach the Faith. This is what we witness throughout his life. His home was a permanent site for firesides, and in later years when he took on social media, his ever-present subject was about delivering the Message. On several occasions, he would have taught a seeker and sought my help to send them materials in Tamil or Malay. On one occasion an Indian lady came all the way from a distant town to the National Centre to thank me for the material she received, and was full of appreciation and praise for Dr Sreeni and the many subjects he shared with her. She said she never expected to receive those precious books. It was no surprise that in public events, when one mention the Faith, some individual will remember the name Dr Sreeni, and say that they had heard the Faith from him. Several times when I had the opportunity of meeting Mother Mangalam of the Pure Life Society, without fail she would ask “How is Dr Sreeni?”. Over the years at several Non-Governmental Organisations and church events where I was invited to speak on the Faith, the host or some prominent individual of the host organization will invariably mention the name of Dr Sreeni and inquire further about him.

    Social Media
    With the advent of social media, especially Facebook and WhatsApp, a new channel for communication was opened for Dr Sreeni. He started a weekly broadcast in WhatsApp and a regular posting in Facebook entitled “Spiritual Highway.” As he met and shared the message with new people, they were added to the broadcast group. For some Bahá’ís, some of the subjects became repetitive, such as soul and life after death, and would want to pass it off. But if you met an inquirer who received these postings, you would be surprised as to how these subjects are seen as novel and thought provoking and warmly appreciated. Although some of these repeated subjects would be ignored or kept for later reading or even deleted by regular recipients, those of us close to him could not escape a phone call from him every week, asking “how was the message?” and “do you have any suggestions?” My admiration for Dr Sreeni was that, at his age well past 80, he was doggedly committed to writing a weekly message in social media, aflame with a love to share with some soul out there the healing message of Baha’u’llah.

    Home of Love and Aunty Molly

    What a lucky soul Dr Sreeni was to have had aunty Molly as a life partner and companion! Her kindness and love simply flowed whenever you met her. She and Dr Sreeni made their home a beacon of light for the Faith, and one cannot imagine the effort and sacrifice involved. Aunty Molly is perhaps an unsung hero, as we reflect on the range and variety of Dr Sreeni’s services to the Cause from the time he accepted the Cause. Along with them came a company of their charming children, Raja, Asha, Omna and Shain, and the whole gang of sons and daughters-in-law and their lovely grand children, making theirs a garden of beautiful and loving souls, each one serving the Faith in their own special way.

    S. Doraisamy
    Kajang
    Malaysia

  42. I had known Dr Sreenivasan from the time he came into the Faith in 1968. The moment he accepted the Faith he was on fire with the love of Bahaullah and spent the rest of his days spanning half a century for the promotion of the Faith. Never did he rest, not for a moment. And he has ventured into so many new areas of service for the Cause, hitherto unheard of, as can be gleaned from the story that Manisegaran has written with so much detail.

    I remember he was a very independent worker for the Cause. He would travel all alone to Malacca to give talks to the believers. In one of the visits, he answered several questions on Christian subjects and I simply marveled at his depth of knowledge on Christianity. The one service that touched me most, as numerous others in the country was the Light of the Age newsletter that he produced while in Butterworth. That was the cheapest newsletter and yet carried tons of rich knowledge on the Cause. It was also given free to so many. That newsletter touched the hearts of the deepened believers as well as new believers. I have so many of the issues which I wish to bind and pass on to my next generation.

    Dr. Sreeni has travelled all over the country and I can say there are perhaps only a handful of places he has not visited. He was one person who had deepened so many believers in this country. Looking back at his long track of impactful services, I can bravely say that he was brought into the Faith for a reason, which is today as clear as broad daylight! His unique, constant, and committed services would go down well in history. May his soul soar in the realms on high under the sheltering care of Bahaullah.

    Anthony C. Louis
    Malacca town
    Malaysia

  43. Dear Manisegaran
    Thank you for your story on Dr Sreenivasan.

    I have been away from Malaysia for nearly 35 years now and still remember him. Dr Sreeni is a man of deep faith and his motivation to serve the Faith at all costs has always baffled and inspired many who are moved to emulate his spirit of service.

    He was spotless and appeared dressed up for every occassion. Probably, also due to his other half – his beloved wife, Molly. Before taking to the floor at many a fireside or deepening sessions he would recite this prayer:
    “O my God! I ask Thee by Thy glorious Name, to aid me in that which will cause the affairs of Thy servants to prosper, and Thy cities to flourish. Thou, indeed has power over all things!” with such fervour that he was literally begging Baha’u’llah to come assist him. He had total reliance on the powers from above. This, everyone of us felt and also made us memorize from just listening to him recite….

    He was very persistent, regular, punctual and to the point. I have heard others say that he was one of the most active, hard working and dedicated Board member of his time…

    Many years back he was involved in a serious motor traffic accident and within minutes the Bahai community of Selangor and beyond came to know and many friends left whatever they were doing and rushed to the Emergency and ICU wards to visit him, to the surprise of the many doctors and nurses who must have thought that he was some VIP person. The numbers were swelling that the friends were advised to allow him to rest and recover. In no time he recovered and was going about his bahai business and perhaps more active than before. He was indeed a Very Important Bahai (V.I.B) much loved by the entire community.

    God bless this wonderful and tireless soul. He is surely joined with the cohorts in heaven and is ready to help those who will arise to serve.

    Morgan Velayutham
    Macau

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