26 Mar 2019 We will Accomplish Kosen-rufu in Singapore Without Fail!
Kapil and Ritu Chhabra
Men and Women Division Member
SSA Times: Kapil and Ritu, you have both been practising Nichiren Buddhism for more than two decades. How did both of you start practising?
Ritu: It started with my mother’s yoga teacher sharing with her SGI President Ikeda’s guidances. My mother felt that whatever her yoga teacher was practising might have good influence on me. I was an introvert then and had problems talking to others so she urged her to take me along for Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG) activities. I was a second year student in college and my grades were mediocre. I started practising Buddhism in January 1991 and my final examinations were in May. In the five months, I devoted myself wholeheartedly to practising Buddhism while studying. I never missed my gongyo, chanted a lot and participated in every meeting. When my results came out, I got second position in my college! I saw the power of my Buddhist practice, and my faith grew stronger and stronger.
Kapil: I joined BSG for a different reason from Ritu. I was feeling a lot of emptiness inside me, that nothing seemed to make me happy. I had a good job, with no major problems in my life but I never felt complete. Then I happened to meet someone who gave me a copy of the BSG publication Value Creation. Its contents made a lot of sense to me. I started to join BSG activities and the real experience of joy and satisfaction came when I joined in the home visitations with the leaders. The emptiness I had felt slowly disappeared and I told myself I must not stop practising and encouraging others.
SSA Times: What were the struggles you face after your marriage and how you overcame them together?
Ritu: Kapil had a dream to provide employment to people. However, he was not trained in business management, and had to start from scratch. In order to pursue his dream to start a business, both of us strove very hard day and night. Nevertheless, we always placed faith before anything else and continued to attend BSG activities even though the meeting venues were very far away. There were days we travelled for hours on the bus because we did not have enough money to fill our motorcycle with petrol.
Kapil: Yes, and Ritu stood by me, keeping me from becoming disheartened. We both read this Gosho passage repeatedly: “Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life, and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, no matter what happens.” (WND, 681) Slowly, our business flourished and we became substantially more affluent.
Ritu: Two years after our marriage, we had our son, Shivam. Shivam suffered from epileptic seizures two days after birth and was immediately sent to the Intensive Care Unit where he fought a life and death battle for 72 hours. With abundant daimoku, he recovered. However, after a week we were told by the doctors that this attack would have serious impact on some parts of his body and there was a chance of him being physically or mentally handicapped. When he was four to five months old, we discovered that the entire left side of his body was paralysed and he was diagnosed with hemiparalysis.
Kapil: We were both shattered and went to seek guidance from a senior leader who shared his conviction that our son has a great mission in life and will bring his parents closer to the Gohonzon. He also shared this Gosho passage: “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is like the roar of a lion. What sickness can therefore be an obstacle?” (WND-1, 412)
Ritu: I couldn’t understand the senior leader’s encouragement at that time but both of us continued with fervent prayers and participated in all Soka meetings and did home visitations, carrying Shivam with us everywhere we went. We started seeing the effect of our prayers as he began walking at the age of two and a half.
Kapil: We enrolled him into a normal school but soon we started getting complaints from his teachers that he could neither draw a straight nor diagonal line; he had problems sitting still and was distracting the rest of his class as well. Later, we came to know that he had a borderline Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and he would have been diagnosed with mental deficiency if he had scored two points lesser in the assessment.
Ritu: It was heart breaking to accept the fact that Shivam was a special child. But as President Ikeda’s disciple I wanted to show actual proof of the Mystic law and I made a vow that Shivam will study like any other normal children. I started working with him and got him to practise writing. I also sought help from special educators. Behind all the efforts were my vigorous daimoku. Now, Shivam has cleared what is equivalent to Singapore’s GCE O-Level and A-Level examinations in India. Though children with special needs are entitled to have their papers written with the help of scribes, Shivam managed to complete all his papers on his own!
Kapil: He also won two silver medals in the Special Olympics Bharat-Delhi Cycling Championship. He is the first in our family to have won a medal!
Rita: Later, the decision to give birth to our second child, Shreeya was also a huge challenge. Fear kept creeping in as we did not know if she would be born with the same challenges as Shivam.
Kapil: We fought our negative thoughts with strong prayers and to our great joy, Shreeya was born without any complication and is doing well in school now. She has also just entered the Future Division.
SSA Times: You were doing so well in New Delhi. Why did you move to Singapore?
Ritu: After a visit to my brother here in 2012, it dawned on me that we should move over for our son. He was growing up and yearned to be independent but we couldn’t allow him to due to security concerns in India. However, I met with resistance from the family when I proposed the idea as relocating the business would be a huge challenge for Kapil.
Kapil: When she first told us, all of us disagreed. But somehow, after a few months I could clearly feel the enthusiasm and confidence in her that things would definitely work out and her conviction slowly got to me and my parents. I also started seeing business opportunities in Singapore.
Ritu: I made a strong determination that I will win no matter what, wanting the best for my children. I challenged myself to wake up at 5am to chant an hour every morning before leaving for work, while I managed household chores and the children. To my surprise within the span of a few months, everything turned around in the direction of my determination and prayer. Everyone in the family agreed and started supporting me!
Kapil: Shivam has now joined a company in Singapore as a trainee doing vocational training. He is completely independent and moves around on his own. His confidence level has also increased tremendously.
Ritu:First time in my life, I could see Shivam getting things for me from the supermarket! I am able to relate with the guidance I was given 20 years ago now that this child has a huge mission in his life.
Kapil: He made us chant and eventually led us to Singapore, which actually allows me to bring forth my potential and meet people I never thought I would meet here. At this age, we made such a big call, gave up so much to come here but inside us, we know we are growing.
When I connect the dots in my life, I understood why Shivam is my child and why I have come here. President Ikeda calls Singapore “a citadel of global citizens”, a place where the world’s peoples meet. It is hence very significant for my family and I to be here in the new era of worldwide kosen-rufu. Everything has a meaning in our lives. We might not see it at that point in time, but if we keep moving forward based on faith without doubt, we will come to see its deep significance.
Ritu: Now, we want to exert ourselves to fulfil our unique mission right where we are and our first prayer everyday is to accomplish kosen-rufu in Singapore without fail!
(Adapted from SSA Times issue 546)