Viji Amma photoMarriage made by Parasparam

Mrs. Vijayalakshmi Raghavan (31 May 1953 – 26 Jul 2007) – Viji to her friends, Viji Mam to her students, and Amma to the inmates of Parasparam – was a true saint, who gave her life in service of the helpless and abandoned. Viji was mother to several semi-orphan girls at Parasparam, whom she believed suffered most in underprivileged homes while their single parents tried to make ends meet.

For many years Secretary of Language Department at Goethe Institute (formerly Max Müller Bhavan), Viji was loved by every student who left the place, and one could always see her at office only in the company of one or more of her fans.

In 1993, the Parasparam project was initiated - and even today extensively supported – by a German philanthropist, Franz Xaver Augustin, then serving Goethe Institute, Chennai, and Viji started working with the Parasparam Trust to take care of semi-orphaned girls, and today, in association with Cattitude Trust, Parasparam is also home to several abandoned cats and dogs. The magic of Parasparam Aashram – Viji did not like to call it an orphanage – was that the girls were made to feel secure and special, are involved by turns in the day to day functioning of the Aashram, which imbues them with responsibility, accountability, self-reliance, and above all, a great sense of belonging. Apart from formal education, the girls are trained in vocational skills like screen printing, tailoring, basic accounting, beauty treatment, to name a few. Their life at the Aashram gives them the courage and the confidence to face the world. Today, with former inmates gainfully and happily employed, Parasparam has been graduating to higher levels.

Viji is truly a child of the Universe, her children come from every kind of background imaginable and she was most particular about preserving the secular nature of Parasparam. She taught the girls to love one another, love the animals, and to take pride in caring for them. Parasparam in Tamil means “mutual” and the exchange of love and compassion between the children and the animals is something unique.

One last dream of Viji, an ardent devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba, was a Shrine for Baba at the Aashram, which was completed a little before she passed away – on her last visit to Shirdi, she selected a beautiful marble idol of Baba for the shrine; and even as the precious parcel of Baba was on its way to Parasparam, Viji got on her way to Baba.

May she rest in peace in the sanctuary of Love she crafted with such devotion and dedication.