I was first inspired by Jeje Shree’s pious ‘vani’ (compassionately and sweetly spoken discourse) 13 Years ago, when I had the opportunity to listen to his Bhagvat Katha in December 2006 in Baroda, India. Since that time I have been an enthusiastic supporter of Jeje Shree and his stimulating work through Vaishnav Sangh of U.K. (a registered charity trust since October 2010).My family and I were fortunately blessed to have had Jeje reside with us at home in Leicester during his various mission visits to rekindle the Pushtimarg faith in U.K. During 2009-2010 when the informal group of sevaks under the guidance of Jeje were keen to open a Haveli he requested my involvement. As fate goes, coincidently the children of Late Giriraj Maharaj who had an operating Haveli in a small residential building on Loughborough Road, Leicester, knew my family. The vendors wanted to sell on the open market to attain the best price. My conscience, and Jeje’s blessings guided and motivated me to ensure that we acquired this operating Haveli at whatever cost. Here, elderly Vaishnavs had been regularly visiting for over 25 years, and we just could not allow this Haveli to be eradicated and sold elsewhere! Thus, my journey as a Sevak of Thakorji began. With the help of many other devotees the purchase was completed and the Vrajdham Haveli was acquired in June 2011 for the benefit of all vaishnavs.
August 2011 – a private Saptah (seven day discourse) by Jeje was held in London in honour of the Popat parivaar’s parents. My wife Jasu & her sister Mina Popat (now a co-trustee of VSUK) asked me to help plan and manage the event. With Jeje Shree’s blessings, it was agreed that the collection during the 7-day Bhagwat Sapthah would be in aid of acquiring the Vrajdham Haveli, Leicester. Around, £100,000 was raised towards the purchase of Shree Thakorji’s Haveli, just through pledges and donations.
August to October 2011 – alongside Jagdishbhai Patel (co-trustee of VSUK), project managed the building works and the architects and contractors. We ensured that the proposed structural changes and refurbishment from a semi-detached house to a suitable Haveli was achieved within just 9 weeks. I feel very blessed that we were able to rescue the old Haveli and transform it into a grander permanent abode for Shrinathji. As a satisfying result we were able to warm the hearts of numerous devotees with this newly revived and updated place of worship.
2012 – due to personal and unforeseen reasons I decided to step down from the Board of Trustees of VSUK, not knowing that in actual fact, Thakorji was only sending me on a short holiday……before the next mammoth task arrived on my table!
2018 – I was indeed ‘summoned back’ as first an Acquisition Consultant and thereafter once again a Trustee for the service of Thakorji and Jeje Shree’s divine lotus feet. Raj Pankhania and I began discussions about the transition from The Jaspar Centre to what is now, ten months later, established as the Shrinathdham Haveli and Community Centre.
Thakorji has always found a way to call me back and to keep me under the umbrella of his bountiful love and protection. I realised that this is surely the wish and the blessings of my Late parents Shri Shantilal & Shrimati Lalitaben Thakkar, and more so my Late Grandfather Shri Rugnath Jeram Morjaria Thakkar from Nakuru, Kenya, who was a staunch Vaishnav and ardent devotee of Shrinathji. Foresight is especially needed to provide an facilitate for the young generations who are the future torchbearers of such institutions. Their needs and priorities are indisputably different and this is bound to impact their style of steering and preserving our valuable traditions and institutions.I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank a few people. Firstly, Thakorji and Jeje Shree for choosing and believing in me to be part of this memorable journey, where I truly believe that we have now secured the future faith of our forthcoming generations. Thank you to my Co-Trustees, the Acquisition team, Events team, and all the supporters, dedicated volunteers and well-wishers. Finally, gratitude to my wife Jasu and daughter Meera, for not only bearing with me but for guiding and reminding me that this is my ‘Zindagi Ni Sachi Kamai’ during every step of this amazing and historical journey.