Serving With A Purpose
Tucked away in the city of Baton Rouge stands the Datta Temple. Established in 1997 under the guidance of Sri Ganapathi Sachchidanda Swamiji, it is fully staffed by a full-time priest who is trained in the ancient ways of Hinduism as it is practiced in India. The temple was the first of its kind in the United States.
Recently, Sri Swamiji arrived in Baton Rouge from India to celebrate his 80th birthday and the 25th anniversary of the temple. Michael G. Manning, President and CEO of the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, had the unique opportunity to tell the Food Bank story at the invitation of the Datta Temple and Sri Swamiji.
Sri Swamiji was born at Mekedatu in southern India. He has served and helped the people in his community since his childhood where his spiritual guidance has long been respected. One of the core teachings of Sri Swamiji is ‘Annadanam’ which is the practice of donating food to those in need. In Sanskrit, ‘Annam’ means food and ‘Daanam’ means donate. ‘Annadanam’ means ‘feeding the hungry.’ In Hinduism, the simple act of giving someone food is the equivalent of giving someone life.
Mike talked about the Food Bank, the need for food for those in need in our 11-parish service area, and the Food Bank’s mission of feeding the hungry. Sri Swamiji and Datta Temple leaders presented Mike with the gift of a shawl and a donation check. Congregants of the temple also made additional donations during the event.
“We were honored for the invitation to speak about the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank’s mission to feed people in need regardless of race, religion, or situation,” said Mike. “Helping others in our community is a shared interest for leading a purposeful life. The tremendous donation from the Datta Temple will help us feed many hungry families in our community who deal with food insecurity on a daily basis.”
Following the visit, temple leaders toured the Food Bank warehouse. During the tour, they learned other ways to support the Food Bank, how to give food donations, how to host food drives and how to volunteer. Helping others in the community not only furthers the mission of the Food Bank but aligns with the Sri Swamiji’s messaging of living a purposeful life.
“This is just the start of something temple leaders and volunteers want to continue with the Food Bank and in the community,” says Manish Sthanki.