Tribute to Venu
- On Saturday night in New York we honored our dear friend and brother Venu Riggio, from the San Francisco Centre, who passed away on Thursday night, July 11. He was a disciple for almost 40 years there and was very involved with Guru's music. He had a boys' singing group called `Venu's Group' for many decades and sang with Kailash's group whenever he could. He sang `The Long Song' or `Dyulok Chariye Nara Narayan' every day for many years until his last days on earth.
Having been friends with Venu for almost 40 years there is much I can say about him. There are others who would also like to share some of the amazing qualities that Venu embodied as a `true disciple', as Guru referred to him according to some of his friends. I would like to share some of those tributes here today and perhaps in future posts.
I would briefly describe him as a very sincerely dedicated spiritual disciple and a very caring and thoughtful, kind friend. He was also quite cheerful and positive in his interactions with just about everyone. He was a very good athlete who loved the discipline of training whether it was running, swimming or cycling, his three favorite athletic disciplines.
Venu called me on Tuesday, less than 2 days before his passing. He was not complaining or depressed, but rather wanted to know how I was doing, asking about the 3100 mile race and also asking about some other of his disciple friends. He was strong and caring to the very end.
Pujari from San Francisco was Venu's roommate for many years. Here is a small tribute he sent me recently:
"Venu had such a positive attitude for the last many months. He never complained about his suffering. The last thing he said to me was " Don't worry about me. " He was the perfect housemate who always put other's needs first. Over the last many years he always meditated at the tree that was planted many years ago in Golden Gate Park. When Guru was asked many years ago who should go to the tree and meditate everyday, He said, " Venu will do it." And he did. Venu's life was simplicity, devotion, obedience and one pointedness in athletics and singing. Several weeks ago, Venu told me, " At least I am still alive and I can still sing the long song everyday, and I am so grateful for that. "
I am sure others who post here may be inspired to write about Venu. It would be nice to read others' experiences of such a wonderful friend and disciple.
- Thank you Arpan for these beautiful words about Venu.
In year 1994 I spent four months in San Francisco, working in Ananda Fuara Restaurant. I was just two year disciple and I remember Venu's kindness and care, he was helping me and others in every way in the Restaurant and the Center. He used to come to work before everyone else and to make fresh watermalon juice for all of us. He was so devoted and selfgiving and at the same time so humble and quiet and he really inspired me so much. At that time he was already 20 year disciple and, besides few others, he was involved in every Center activity. Personallly, I have learnt a lot from all of them.
Once his parents and sister came to San Francisco and visited the Restaurant, and I was surprised to see completely new Venu comming to the fore. He was so happy and trilled because of that visit, that he introduced all of us to his family. He was so proud that we are his spiritual family and he openly showed it to them.
For so many years in New York I used to meet him, but we have never spoke to each other, we just exchanged smiles as greetings and went our ways. In my memory he will always remain as older brother who shows right path to his younger siblings, guided by Guru's Loving Heart that could be seen in his eyes.