ForeverMissed
This site is dedicated to the memory of our dear Saroja Girishankar - beloved wife and mother, cherished grandmother and friend to all. 
We will love and remember her forever.

About the Hindu Funeral Ceremony on Wednesday
The goal of the Hindu funeral rites is to facilitate the soul's transition -- via symbolic rituals and Vedic chanting -- to higher heights and ultimately, as result of its own karma and awareness, to the ultimate liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
  • Prayaschittam  - atonement of sins and absolution 
  • Punyaha Vachakam - purification of the body 
  • Karnamantrajapam - prayers to liberate the soul
  • Sparsha Ahuti - oblations to the Vedic fire 
Following these four rites, a short video in memory of Saroja will be played. The broadcast will then complete and the family will conclude with the final rite in private.
  • Dahanam - cremation

Flowers & Donations
In lieu of flowers, we ask that you consider making a donation to Cathedral Kitchen in memory of Saroja Girishankar. 
You can do so directly on-line at www.cathedralkitchen.org and print out the receipt for tax purposes, if desired. You can also mail a donation to Cathedral Kitchen at 1514 Federal St., Camden, NJ 08105. They will mail a donation acknowledgment.
Posted by Shanti Kim on June 29, 2020
Dear Giri Uncle, Baba and Priya,
We were all so sad to hear about Saroja Auntie's passing. This struck us hard, especially after our own mom, Saraswathi, passed away a short two months ago. Saroja was a kind and generous soul. We all remember how she selflessly opened up her home to the community in Broadmooor on Sundays for Balvikas and then joyous singing in the afternoon. It was from her that we learned how love, faith and spirituality could be found and respected in many ways. Our deepest condolences to all of you; may her soul rest in peace. Sai Ram.

With love, Shanti, Gita, Vasu and Venkatraman.
Posted by Prashant Subramanian on June 28, 2020
I have heard a lot about you from my Dad but didn't get an opportunity to meet you.That regret will always remain with me.Dad always used to say how lovable and affectionate you were towards every family member.You will be missed & may your soul attain eternal peace

Prashant Subramanian
(Venkatraman Mama's grand son)
Posted by Ganesh Venkataraman on June 28, 2020
I will always remember Saroja’s smiling face as she eases into a conversation enquiring all about me and family since our last meeting. She makes it a point to enquire about each person in the extended family and their whereabouts. This was something special about her.

As a kid, I use to remember her visiting us with their family. We admired her as a role model having settled in the States since the mid-sixties and managed her career and other social responsibilities with amazing ease. I had met her couple of times at her mother’s (my aunt) place at Chennai. Being an ardent devotee of Sathya Sai Baba, she always shares her experiences about the commune and her small contribution to the organisation. She travels often to India and looked after her parent’s welfare till their last days. She touched many as part of her journey. She will be missed by all of us.

Our heartfelt sympathy to Giri, Priya and Navin (Baba) and family.
May God rest your soul in peace.

Ganesh and family on behalf of Venkataraman Mama and family (Trivandrum)
Posted by Faith Hollander on June 27, 2020
Sairam! Prayers that our beloved Saroja is enfolded in eternal divine love and peace. Prayers for God's comforting healing love for dear Giri, Priya, Baba, and the family.

I first met Saroja and Giri in their home in 1976, a time when Sai centers were forming in the US. We had the joy of joining together in these activities and remained friends through the years.
The last time I saw beautiful Saroja was in Kulwant Hall in 2008, I'm so grateful we stayed in touch. Most of all Saroja was a true blessing in my life.
Posted by Amrit Thapa on June 27, 2020
Dear Saroja aunty,

We are deeply grateful for your role in being instrumental in initiating the Sathya Sai Center of Cherry Hill. You have been a great inspiration for many. THANK YOU VERY MUCH! May your soul rest in peace, and prayers to the family for strength, comfort and wisdom during these difficult times.

Amrit (on behalf of Sathya Sai Center of Cherry Hill).
Posted by Amita Samanta on June 27, 2020
Sai Ram! Saroja your memory is my keepsake. In your life you touched so many. God has you in his keeping, I have you in my heart. May God rest your soul in peace! I will keep you all in my prayers!
Posted by Krishnamurthy Girishankar on June 26, 2020
Swami showers His love and grace on us, dispels our miseries and bestows health, wealth and happiness on us. Let us all meditate upon our adorable Creator as the embodiment of His radiant Purity and Unity, and Universal Truth and Wisdom. May He illumine our minds and intellect.
May He illumine our dearest Saroja's mind and intellect. May He let her soul merge with Him in complete peace.
Giri and the family.
Posted by Kila Weaver on June 25, 2020
I didn't know this beautiful woman but her son Navin is my dear friend. Her light shines through him. I pray that Navin and his family receive peace and comfort during this heartbreaking time. Sending love and sympathy.
Posted by Arun Jayaraman on June 25, 2020
Though I used to see Saroja Athai only about once a year when she came down to Chennai, I remember that she was always ready with a smile and a kind word. Deepest condolences to Giri Athimber, Priya, Baba and the rest of the family.
Posted by Shobana Chelakkara on June 24, 2020
Our deepest Sympathy to Mama,Baba, Priya & Damon. Saroja Mami was an amazing person. She always had a kind word and a smile for everyone. She will be missed by all of us  Our prayers are with you to all.

Shobana ,Sivaram ,Om and Dipti.

Posted by Neil Nag on June 24, 2020
My condolences to Giri uncle, Priya didi, and Baba. Auntie was my spiritual guide and I was extremely blessed to have her in my life. My early years under her tutelage shaped my whole perspective on faith and how I should live my life. I am deeply saddened by her passing but I often hear her teachings in my mind. She will always be a part of my heart.
Sai Ram,
Little Neil
Posted by Jayanthy Venkatraman on June 24, 2020
Our heartfelt Sympathy to Giri, Priya, Navin and family. I am happy Saroja touched my life. May her soul Rest In Peace. May the cherished Memories help us all and comfort us.
Sairam
Jayanthy and Venkat-Raman
Posted by Aparna Ramaswami on June 24, 2020
We will hold dear to our heart, her big infectious smile and her caring. We will miss you Chitthi! Thank you for some lovely memories which we will cherish.
Chitthappa, Priya, Damon, Govind, Baba, Monique - our deepest condolences.
With love,
Aparna, Karthik, Ashwin & Anusha
Posted by Sushil Bhatnagar on June 24, 2020
From Sushil and Meena Bhatnagar:
We had such a valuable interaction with you in participating in the sandwich delivery program. We always admired your ability and work to help out the needy.
We shall always remember you and your kind words. We pray Baba gives your the strength to bear the great loss.

Om Sai Ram
Posted by Avinash Rajan on June 24, 2020
Our deepest sympathies to Giri Chittappa, Priya and Baba. We fondly remember Chitti’s big smile and hearty laugh. We will say a prayer in her memory. Avinash, Maya and Ishaan
Posted by Goldie Ofori-Atta on June 24, 2020
Our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to the entire Girishankar family during this difficult and devastating time. We did not have the pleasure of meeting Navin's mom in person but due to Navin's great character of loyalty, integrity, kindness, dedication and selflessness, we can only imagine the love, values and care his beloved mother instilled in him. To lose the shining light of the family, a wife, mother, grandmother, who was a selfless, caring and accomplished woman is unexplainable. May her soul rest in perfect peace. -The Ofori-Atta family
Posted by Teresa Rodriguez on June 23, 2020
So, so saddened to learn about Mrs. Girishanker’s passing. I am grateful for the few times I shared with her and listened to her conversations and for the warmth she shared when we visited her home. I will always remember her as Baba’s brilliant and beloved mother - a strong and warm woman. God’s grace be with you Baba and your family.
Posted by Nick Lippis on June 23, 2020
I am so sadden to have found the news of Saroja’s passing. For family and friends, Saroja and I worked together very early on in our careers when she was a reporter. She documented the creation of the internet with her stories.  She was always so sweet, caring, sharp, focused, intelligent, and eager to learn. Her laugh was contagious, her smile was warm and her personality bright. She was a wonderful person and I surely will miss her.  My deepest condolences to her family. 
Posted by Beverly Whipple on June 23, 2020
Our deepest sympathy to the entire family. I miss Saroja so very much. She was my best friend in our Centennial Mill community. We would talk every day and shared so much. She was a beautiful person and a very special friend. Love, Beverly and Jim
Posted by Ganesh Varadaraja Iyer on June 23, 2020
Saroja was a more an elder sister to me than a cousin and we share loads of childhood memories from Trivandrum days when she , with Chithi and Chithappa used to come for summer vacations...
She treated me with so much affection, empathy and care all along... I will miss it now on very much... She had a special place for my mother ( Kittamma for her) in her heart and we used to have often long conversations over phone about those fun days which she always cherished .
I cannot believe that she is no longer there..
I can understand how Giri and children are going to miss her.
Her devotion to Swami was so staunch she would have reached His lotus feet and be resting with Him.
She will have a special place in our memories.
OM SAIRAM.... OM SHANTHI...

Posted by Larry Zazzo on June 23, 2020
Mrs. G was a beautiful lady, full of kindness and joy. My heart goes out to the Girishankar family, and I wish Godspeed to her soul.
Posted by Jayshree Ullal on June 22, 2020
i have known Saroja for over three decades . She had been a loving kind affectionate and fiercely loyal friend and a force to reckon with in the industry . As a eminent journalist she covered technical and visionary topics with industry titans . More recently Saroja was instrumental in driving the “making of Arista “ booklet in record time for our 2019 NYSE celebration. Saroja - i know you are leaving a huge void in the industry and family . My condolences to Giri Navin and Priya . I really miss you and our chats on wide ranging topics interspersed with tamil one- liners . i know you will be guiding us from above and I will cherish our memories.
Posted by William Smith on June 23, 2020
Saroja was always so giving and kind and I always felt love emanating from her. Though her physical presence will be missed, her spirit lives on.
Posted by Kanan Desai on June 22, 2020
Sai Ram! So very sorry to hear about Saroja Auntie! She was an exemplary role model for me. I will always remember her smiling face and words of wisdom in Balvikas class. I will keep you all in my prayers!
Posted by PG And NG on June 22, 2020
Sai Ram, Mom.

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Shanti Kim on June 29, 2020
Dear Giri Uncle, Baba and Priya,
We were all so sad to hear about Saroja Auntie's passing. This struck us hard, especially after our own mom, Saraswathi, passed away a short two months ago. Saroja was a kind and generous soul. We all remember how she selflessly opened up her home to the community in Broadmooor on Sundays for Balvikas and then joyous singing in the afternoon. It was from her that we learned how love, faith and spirituality could be found and respected in many ways. Our deepest condolences to all of you; may her soul rest in peace. Sai Ram.

With love, Shanti, Gita, Vasu and Venkatraman.
Posted by Prashant Subramanian on June 28, 2020
I have heard a lot about you from my Dad but didn't get an opportunity to meet you.That regret will always remain with me.Dad always used to say how lovable and affectionate you were towards every family member.You will be missed & may your soul attain eternal peace

Prashant Subramanian
(Venkatraman Mama's grand son)
Posted by Ganesh Venkataraman on June 28, 2020
I will always remember Saroja’s smiling face as she eases into a conversation enquiring all about me and family since our last meeting. She makes it a point to enquire about each person in the extended family and their whereabouts. This was something special about her.

As a kid, I use to remember her visiting us with their family. We admired her as a role model having settled in the States since the mid-sixties and managed her career and other social responsibilities with amazing ease. I had met her couple of times at her mother’s (my aunt) place at Chennai. Being an ardent devotee of Sathya Sai Baba, she always shares her experiences about the commune and her small contribution to the organisation. She travels often to India and looked after her parent’s welfare till their last days. She touched many as part of her journey. She will be missed by all of us.

Our heartfelt sympathy to Giri, Priya and Navin (Baba) and family.
May God rest your soul in peace.

Ganesh and family on behalf of Venkataraman Mama and family (Trivandrum)
her Life

A Remembrance...

SAROJA GIRISHANKAR

Saroja Girishankar (nee Iyer), age 76, of Voorhees, New Jersey, passed away on Friday, June 19, 2020. She was the only child and devoted daughter of Sivaramakrishnan and Lakshmi Iyer.Saroja was the beloved wife of Krishnamurthy (Giri) for 56 years, and the loving and supportive mother of Priya and Navin, mother-in-law of Damon and ‘mom’ to Monique. Last but hardly least, she was the proud Ammamma of her long-awaited and only grandchild, Govind whom she loved deeply.

Born in 1944, Saroja learned to be independent and fearless growing up as a South Indian girl in New Delhi. She would fondly talk about the adventures of her youth and family vacations down to South India – from haggling with street vendors at the age of six to spending summers with her beloved aunt, Kittama, in Thiruvananthapuram. Those were memories she cherished throughout her life. Saroja graduated from Lady Sriram College, with high honors, at the young age of 19. She and Giri married in 1964 and lived in Bhopal where she was a teacher. Soon thereafter, they moved their young family to the US, and began their lives in Boston before making South Jersey home for 45 years. Till her last day, she was a fierce champion and supporter of her children, going to great lengths to give them what she wasn’t able to have. They can never properly thank her for what she has done for them. 

Saroja was a force of nature, ever ready to chart new paths and deeply committed to every goal she pursued – whether in her career, family life, or community activities. As an educator, the intellectual and moral development of young people was a lifelong passion. Throughout her career, she taught at every level – primary school in India, junior high in New Jersey public schools, and eventually as a professor at Glassboro State College (now Rowan University). Saroja’s second act, starting in her 40s, was as a writer and a journalist, covering the information technology revolution from the mid-1980s through the 2000s. She was also committed to lifelong learning. Years after she had changed careers, at the age of 62, she received her Masters in Education at Rowan University.

Saroja was an ardent devotee of her guru, Sri Sathya Sai Baba, whom she visited regularly since her first solo pilgrimage to Puttaparthi in 1972. Her profound faith enabled her to traverse a number of health crises over the years, and motivate her to dedicate endless hours to his teachings, including the importance of service to others. She was one of original architects of the Balvikas and Education in Human Values program in the US, teaching generations of youth in our community every Sunday for many years. She was also an early exponent of the Sai bhajan movement in America, starting one of the early centers in the US with her Swami’s blessing. In her later years, her commitment to service remained undiminished. For the past fifteen years, she initiated and mobilized a free lunch program with Cathedral Kitchen in Camden, New Jersey which continues today.  Through her service, she touched many lives in the US and India.

Saroja will always be remembered as a humble servant of Sai and a pillar of the community. She will be deeply missed by her family and dear friends.

Recent stories

Saroja - My role model for doing everything to perfection

Shared by Jayanthy Venkatraman on June 24, 2020
Dear Priya and Navin
Your Amma was a perfectionist. A trait to learn From and follow. Today I want to narrate to you an incident I remember so well after all these years. 
I admired the beautiful way the Alter of Sri Sai Baba In their home used to be decorated with flowers and the beautifulMy polished lamps. The atmosphere created was enough to make one maintain silence and immerse oneself in the offering of lovely bhajans to Swami! Fortunate was I to learn bhajans from Saroja and fortunate to offer them at the lotus feet of Swami. 
Once we all went on a retreat to Poughkipske NY. Each of us were assigned duties. Saroja and few of us had breakfast making duty. It was going to be Upuma with vegetables. Saroja sat comfortably in front of the large wok! We all know how short Saroja is and me too! But we felt mighty making the upuma for 200+ devotees. In went the oil then the mustard seeds. Oh my! the Wok was too hot, the mustard seeds popped and then turned completely black. Saroja and all of us were upset. We were deciding whether to continue to making the Upuma or start over. Of course with Saroja as our Chef, there was no question. “We can’t serve Swami Upuma with burnt mustard seed” she said! So 3 of us with towels picked up the large Wok and emptied it. Then it was rinsed and was back on stove. It was the best Upuma that day for breakfast! I am sure Swami was very happy with the tasty Upuma we served that morning. Yes! For Saroja there are no compromises to doing things right. Such was Saroja’s adherence to doing everything right and everything to perfectIon too.This event will forever be in my heart. Saroja will be missed forever. 

Dear Saroja Aunty..

Shared by Sandhya Rao on June 24, 2020
Om Sri Sai Ram,
On behalf of my dad RV Rao, my mom Kusuma, my sister Jyothsna and myself Sandhya Rao and our families.. we are deeply saddened to hear about Saroja Aunty. Our sincere and heartfelt Sai prayers to Giri Uncle, Priya and Navin and the families during this time. May Dear Swami give you all the strength and guidance. 

We are so so thankful to Saroja Aunty for introducing us to Swami. I remember coming to Aunty’s house on Saturday evenings as a young child and hearing the beautiful Sai Bhajans full of vibrations. I remember vividly the beautiful simple yet elegant altar with Swami’s picture, light peach carpet, and the disciplined Divine atmosphere and Swami’s room. The Sai Center was full of love and reverence to Swami. Every Sunday morning would be our Balvikas classes. This is where I learned all the values and teachings of Swami from Saroja Aunty. She was an extraordinary and dedicated teacher! I would be captivated in listening to the Chinna Katha stories like “The Good Tongue and The Bad Tongue” and as I got older having deep discussions on the Bhaja Govindam Slokas/meanings of Adi Shankaracharya from the Summer Showers of Brindavan Swami discourses. We would practice a lot for the performances and presentations because it had to be the best for Swami. I understood the sense of discipline and perfection. I am forever grateful to Aunty for such solid, value based foundation as it shaped who I am today. Throughout the years, I was fortunate to have kept in touch and the teacher-student bond relationship was invaluable. I remember once going to Whitefield to have the darshan of Swami and as I was waiting in line.. I looked across and I saw Saroja Aunty. What a pleasant surprise! It was probably a good 15 years since we had last met. She gave me a big hug and we sat next to each other for darshan. With a huge smile, Beloved Swami came to both of us and gave us padanamaskar and blessed us. Saroja Aunty said “See how nicely our Dear Swami blessed teacher and student. What a blessed moment.” It was certainly joyful, indelible moments! Aunty also helped me and my husband, Krishna tremendously with an SSE offering (Sarva Dharma Sai Gitanjali) to Dear Sai in 2007. We reconnected again and it was like attending Balvikas again as Aunty gave wonderful ideas, teachings, experiences, tips, music song ideas, and just giving us the overall confidence to always do your best for Swami! With her guidance, I was able to pass the Sai teachings to my own twins as well as to many SSE children. More recently, I wrote a note to our SSE students on Thursday 6/18/20 wishing them well for the SSE Annual Day program and this time, somehow I felt in my heart to talk about Aunty. I actually mentioned Saroja Aunty as my respected teacher and to always remember teachers for their dedication and to never forget their kind efforts for our upbringing. Little did I know what was forthcoming..Swami’s omnipresence. Saroja Aunty, you were instrumental in showing our family the Sai path. Immense gratitude to you! Oh Aunty, how I will miss picking up the phone to talk to you about our Beloved Swami.  I pray that you look upon us and bless us. As our Dear Swami says, “Teachers are reservoirs from which, through the process of education, students draw the water of life.” 
Loving Sairams, Sandhya, your student of Sai
Shared by Sundaresa Venkatraman on June 24, 2020
When my friend, Vijay Desai, requested my company to go to the NJ Center, in the mid 70s, it was with reluctance that I agreed. In those days, Saroja & Giri’s house was the only center close to us, albeit 60 odd miles away, each way! During the first meeting, after introductions, Saroja asked me point blank, ‘Do you believe Sai Baba is God?’ My quizzical look must have told her, ‘Come again?’ She repeated her question with pause and space between each word as if to give me time to digest and belch. When I pleaded ignorance to what God is, she understood that I did not have an answer to her question and thrust Howard Murphet’s book Man of Miracles and insisted I read it. Before I left that meeting she asked, ‘From now on, will you come regularly?’. I hesitated. Before I could form the sentence the gist of which would have been a ‘No’, my friend Vijay jumped and said, ‘Yes, Yes, Yes!’ I came home and read the book next day in one sitting and the rest was history! For nearly a decade, until the Warminister Center was opened closer to home, 15 vs 65 miles, every Friday, come rain or come shine, come sun or come snow, saw Vijay Desai and me driving to the NJ Center and actively participate in the Bhajans and the Study Circles. My first few baby steps in my Spiritual Journey, I owe it to Mrs. Saroja Girishanker who will always live in my heart. And oh, thanks to her, now I know the answer to her question. In Sai Baba’s own words, ‘I am God and I know that. You are also God and you must realize that.’ It is not that ‘There is only ONE God’; but that ‘There is ONLY God!’ Saroja, those who don’t know the Truth will miss you; those who do, won’t!
Your dear brother,
Raman