Mr. George Harilela- ... 1920-2006
Mr. George Harilela-
“An example of Selfless Service”
Mr. Jethanand Harilela, better known to all as Dada George, was born to Devibai and Naroomal Harilela in
Hyderbad Sind in 1920. He was the eldest son of eight siblings; Hari, Peter, Bob, Gary, Rani, Mohan and Sandee. He
was not only a father figure to all the Harilela Family but to the many alienated souls he served quietly all over the
My grandmother, Devibai, (Ami) often referred to dad as Yuddhistra, the son of
Dharma. As a baby, she used to place him on the Courtyard floors of their home whilst
she attended to her household chores. All the neighbours looked upon this child in awe
as they watched the birds fly around him and place tulsi leaves all over his little form.
My grandmother knew then that God had sent her an angel from heaven.
In the early years the family emigrated from India to Shanghai and then later on to
Hong Kong. These were difficult years for the family. They were subjected to hard and
trying times through deceit, hunger and wars. They faced immense cruelties at the
hands of the Japanese. My grandfather was tortured, my father beaten and Uncle Peter
shot. My father, with Dada Hari, Peter and Bob worked long and hard hours to feed
the family. Even then, whatever little food they had obtained for the large and growing family was shared and offered
to their neighbours.
Through it all, they never complained. They had absolute faith. They would often speak of all the times God was
there and saved them from many perilous situations. Their love for each other was so dynamic that they overcame
every single obstacle. Unity and service to family was their svadharma and they never lost sight of it. Their day
always started with prayer and gratitude, and still does.
Because of Dada George’s noble, dedicated, loving and honest nature, many felt drawn to do business with the
family. Dada Hari was known for his business acumen and the rest of the brothers for their hard work and diligence.
The Community trusted the family and started to look up to them. The family began to prosper and the blessings of the
Gods rained down on the family. Spring in the glory of Life showed her face with the birth of Rani, Gary, Mohan and
Dad married mom in 1946 and what a pair they made!! The love and sacrifices they made for each other and all of us,
their seven children was just beyond words. My mom looked upon him as her Parameshvara and he looked upon her
as a Goddess. They lived such a rich and colourful life together, travelling everywhere and meeting many dignitaries.
As children, we met celebrities such as Pat Boone, Doris Day, Rock Hudson, Diana Ross and so many others. My
parents met with local and International politicians such as Eisenhower, General Patton, Princess Margaret, Nehru and
Indira Gandhi to name just a few. And most important of all, the great spiritual Masters such as Lela Shah, Mother
Teresa, Dada Jaishan and our Beloved Shri Swami Satchidananda who became the Harilela’s Family Guru.
Shri Gurudev was there to officiate the opening of the Holiday Inn Hotel in H.K. He was there at least once a year to
teach us the Science of Yoga and personally give us Hatha classes!! Our Beloved Gurudev attended and blessed so
many of the family weddings, including mine!! It was a joy to watch Shri Gurudev and dad together. The love they
had for each other was tangible and magnetic! Our family got involved with the financing of many of Shri Gurudev’s
projects, especially the building of the Lotus and dad was particularly interested in the school Gurudev built in
Coimbatore. Dad always taught us from childhood that God is everywhere and there along came Shri Gurudev with
his famous saying, ‘Truth is One, Paths are many, let us live in Peace and Joy’!! A perfect joining of minds. His
ideals filled our household and dad was a living disciple of this teaching.
Dada George was presented with numerous titles and awards for his work in the Community. He received the
Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) from the Open International University for Complementary Medicines and Medicina
Alternativa Institute. He was awarded The Royal Knight Commander by the Royal Knight by the Royal
Humanitarian Order of Saint John of Jerusalem Knights of Malta. He was well known for his work with the Kanya
Daan Trust (which he set up). This trust was involved in arranging and financing mass weddings for the less fortunate
women in India. (I witnessed these marriages myself and was amazed at the amount of gratitude and love the villagers
felt towards their benefactors). He belonged to associations such as The Cordon Bleu Saint Espirit, The Royal
Commonwealth Society, The Rotary Club and served tirelessly for the spiritual, mental and physical welfare of the
Hindu Community. For that he was awarded the ‘Hindu Vibhusan’ (Splendour of the Hindus) in 2003.
Despite all his business and social successes, Dada George was a simple and humble man. He always put others first.
His siblings, children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces and friends all loved, respected and admired him. He was truly
a man of ‘steady wisdom’. Throughout all the hardships, he always wore a smile of optimism. Throughout our lives he
repeated, ‘Why worry, God is with you, you are never alone’ and another saying that was constantly on his lips was,
‘Give Love, Give Love. Only by giving Love will you get Love’. Integrity, generosity, kindness, brilliance, goodheartedness, truthfulness… all these adjectives are synonymous with his being. His positive, happy-go-lucky nature
was infectious and, he would, on many a Sunday dinner (family tradition) burst into song thanking God for his life, his
wife and family. Around him, there was never a dull moment. He always had a twinkle in his eye and a mischievous
In the last few years of his life, he suffered with various ailments. He called them gifts from the Gods so he could
purge out any negative karma. I recall a conversation with him recently in which he told me, “God took away my
hearing, so I could only hear Him. God is taking away my sight so I can only see Him. And God is taking away my
health so I can be with Him. How much God loves me!”
His last wish was to be with mom on their 60th Wedding Anniversary. And, with the wonderful care, tireless dedication
and devotion that mom and my beloved sister-in-law, Avisha, showered upon him, he made it to that special occasion
on May 27th 2006. All of us, the whole Harilela Family, were there for that unforgettable re-union.
After that, his health declined and on December 8th, 2006, he left his body surrounded by his wife and all his children.
The timing was perfect. My eldest sister Mira had just finished chanting the 18th Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. My
eldest brother David, who was his right hand man, was by his side. My brothers Maj , Kumar and sisters Kantu , Lavi
were also there. My husband, Shanky and my son, Shaman had just arrived at the hospital. My sister-in-laws Avisha,
Manisha, Laila and I were already there. As the numbers on the monitor started decreasing, we all chanted ‘Om
Tryambagam’. Satnam Vaiguru, Gayatri Mantra and the Om Shanti Chant… My dad slipped away so peacefully and
so beautifully. He deserved no less.
When he left his body, my mother said to us, her children, ‘I have not only lost my husband, I have lost my saint, my
Guru. He was so good to all, never spoke ill of anyone, respected the Saints, served the poor, looked after the maids,
served the Community, adored his family and his children, never failed with any of his duties…. I have to bear the loss
of such a great soul who has been by my side’. With such a great loss, mom attended to his funeral with such devotion
and dignity. Her shakti kept us all going and she is now the embodiment of my dad’s love. My Aunty Padma, the
matriach of the family, organized the most beautiful funeral. She worked non-stop to make everyone comfortable and
to give dad, in her words ‘A funeral fit for a King, as he lived like one’.
Dada George leaves behind seven children and their spouses, sixteen grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, three
brothers and a sister. But most of all he leaves behind a legacy of Love. This legacy was seen so visibly in the
attitudes of his grandchildren during the funeral rites. Their desire to continue their grandfather’s work shone in their
faces and the love and comfort they all gave to us, their parents, showed us that truly Dad is always with us…
On behalf of the Harilela Family, we, his children, would like to thank everyone at the ashram for all their prayers
and messages of Condolences. It meant a lot to all of us. We do feel dad is safely wrapped in Shri Gurudev’s warm
embrace…….Mira and Ramesh, David and Avisha, Maj and Laila, Kumar and Manisha, Nalanie and Shanky, Kantu
and Vijay, Lavi and Suneel.
Om Shanti… Om Shanti… Om Shanti…Ever at His feet of Light…loves nalanie
“An action without any selfish expectation
whatsoever, is a right action.
Such an act will never disturb your mind or body”.
Sri Swami Satchidananda in Gibraltar. 1997.