Tuesday, Oct 24th

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Friday, 27 March 2015 14:18

Complete Transformation of Mr Bodybuilder

Written by  Low Hai Loon, Klang / Translated by Tan Heang Shin

Vjayandram a/l Govindasamy, aged 61, is the first Malaysian Indian to be certified as a Tzu Cheng. He hopes to help more lost souls like him to turn over a new leaf. [Photograph by Tai Fuey Tat]

Vjayandram a/l Govindasamy, aged 61, is the first Malaysian Indian to be certified as a Tzu Cheng. With Master Cheng Yen just 15 metres away, Vjaya shared that he would never forget the moment the Master pinned the Tzu Cheng badge onto his shirt and tapped him on his shoulder.


 
Klang-born Vjaya came from a big family of eight siblings. Bullied at school in the early years due to his small stature, he decided, at age 18, to embark on a bodybuilding programme. He had to train hard for three hours daily, and after six years, had successfully developed a 17-inch arm. His physique even won him the Selangor Indian Bodybuilding Championship in 1977.
 
The following year, he resigned from his seven-year tenure at a factory to become a car salesman; and he sought Hindu deities for blessings in order to increase his sales. At that time, the car industry in Malaysia was already flourishing, and his income improved.
 
Forty-eight days prior to celebrating Thaipusam, Vjaya and other Hindu devotees would adhere to strict guidelines and precepts in their daily life. For instance, they have to sleep on the floor, take cold showers and fast before they could carry a Kavadi.
 
A Kavadi is built with 108 pieces of steel that weigh tens of kilograms; and it is balanced on the shoulders of the devotee. The Hindu devotees need to endure the physical burden through which they implore for blessings from the deities. Vjaya had been carrying out the ritual until he was introduced to Tzu Chi by his wife, Phang Pow Choo, in 2010.
 
Became grumpy with tobacco and alcohol addiction
 
The mixed marriage between Vjaya and Pow Choo was considered rare in the 1980s especially in the small village of Kampar, Perak. Moreover, Vjaya was two years younger, hence, they did not get the blessings from the wife’s family and villagers.
 
Despite the objections, they went through with their marriage. Before long, Vjaya had indulged in many bad habits, like smoking four packs of cigarettes per day and drinking every afternoon after 3 pm. He could spend up to RM300 a day on alcohol and cigarettes; and this brought unhappiness to the couple.
 
Under the influence of alcohol, Vjaya became extremely bad-tempered, smashing everything at home, from kitchen utensils to electrical appliances, whenever he was unhappy. In 2000, he lost his job and his drinking worsened.
 
Pow Choo chose to remain silent instead of fighting him. For more than ten years, there was no communication between them; and their marriage was on the verge of collapse. Her active participation in Tzu Chi further angered him. He even threatened to chase her out of the house if she continued with Tzu Chi.
 
In order to make him understand more about Tzu Chi, Pow Choo decided to install Da Ai TV at home. She would switch on the TV when he was around hoping that he would better understand her work at Tzu Chi.
 
Gave up bad habits after joining Tzu Chi
 
One day in 2007, when Vjaya was lazing on the sofa, Da Ai TV was screening a talk by Master Cheng Yen on environmental protection. He was reading the English subtitles where the Master was advising everyone to seize the opportunity to contribute to society rather than spend their lives idling away. He was touched by the message delivered by the Master.
 
He then started to pay attention to the recycling programmes and even went to help at the recycling point in Taman Eng Ann, Klang, where his wife was on duty. He had not quit smoking then and would slip out halfway to smoke by the roadside initially. Pow Choo quietly sought help from other volunteers to invite her husband for more activities so that he could change his life.
 
Vjaya started joining more activities frequently and with the caring from volunteers, he slowly got rid of the bad habits within two years. He also became a vegetarian and returned to employment after a lapse of ten years.
 
He was moved by the Master’s preaching that the body is a gift from one’s parents and should thus cherish and take good care of it. Since then, he started to work hard and also promoted Tzu Chi; and managed to recruit 15 Indian donating members.
 
Although he could not understand Mandarin, he has appreciated the Dharma through Tzu Chi’s English books, Da Ai TV English subtitles and translation provided during fellowships. He shared, “Even if I do not understand what was said, I still feel happy sitting there and listening.”
 
Pow Choo is pleased with the unimaginable change in her husband. The poor relationship between Vjaya and their only daughter, which was a result of his bad temper, has also improved. The family is much closer now and he would sometimes help with house chores too.
 
Vjaya began promoting Tzu Chi’s Four Major Missions to the Indian community with the hope that more Indians would get to know Tzu Chi, and subsequently get involved in recycling activities. He also hoped to help more lost souls like him to turn over a new leaf.
 
 
Vjaya is seen here learning Buddhist etiquette during a volunteer training. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]   After joining Tzu Chi, Vjaya slowly got rid of his bad habits, like smoking and drinking; and that brings harmony to the family. [Photograph by Soh Teck Hing]

Vjaya is seen here learning Buddhist etiquette during a volunteer training. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]
 
After joining Tzu Chi, Vjaya slowly got rid of his bad habits, like smoking and drinking; and that brings harmony to the family. [Photograph by Soh Teck Hing]
 
Vjaya and his wife, Phang Pow Choo, shared their past stories on stage. [Photograph by Tai Fuey Tat]
  Vjaya overcame the language barrier and took part in a sutra adaptation performance during the 2011 Year-end Blessing Ceremony. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]

Vjaya and his wife, Phang Pow Choo, shared their past stories on stage. [Photograph by Tai Fuey Tat]
 
 
Vjaya overcame the language barrier and took part in a sutra adaptation performance during the 2011 Year-end Blessing Ceremony. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]
 
Vjaya has learnt to observe precepts and be mindful of his actions. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]   Vjaya’s whole family embraced each other warmly during the 2012 Auspicious Seventh Lunar Month Blessing Ceremony. [Photograph by Soh Teck Hing]

Vjaya has learnt to observe precepts and be mindful of his actions. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]
 
 
Vjaya’s whole family embraced each other warmly during the 2012 Auspicious Seventh Lunar Month Blessing Ceremony. [Photograph by Soh Teck Hing]