H.H Swami Pranavananda of Gudivada played a very important role in Pujya Swami Dayananda’s life. He resolved many of the doubts which Pujya Swamiji had, by pointing out that the Vedas are a pramana ,a means for knowledge for knowing the truth of the self. Pujya Swamiji recognized all the implications of this fact, and this was to have a profound impact on Swamiji. Swamiji realized that self-knowledge is not some profound incommunicable experiences, the domain of some mystics who had some profound insights. Swamiji recognized that self-knowledge is communicable through Vedanta, the ancient tradition of teaching – there was a clear methodology involved and this knowledge could be unfolded with precision and could be understood by those who had the required inner readiness for it.
In May 1969, H. H Swami Pranavanandaji passed away. In the June 1969 issue of Tyagi, Pujya Swamiji honored him writing :-
“ His Holiness Swami Pranavananda of Gudivada attained mahasAmadhi on 15th May 1969. He was in his seventies.
At the insistence of Sri Swamiji, I lived with Sri Swami Pranavananda in his ashram for a few months in 1961-62, and from then on I was in contact with him.
In teaching atma vidya, there is a tradition in our country. If that is not known to a teacher, he can never impart the knowledge of the sruti to a seeker. Just as the eyes are a pramana for all perceptions of forms, sruti through a living teacher becomes the pramana for self-knowledge. And therefore the method of teaching is important. If there is no traditional method in teaching this vidya, there is no necessity for a Guru; one can read the books with some prelimnary general qualifications necessary to read and understand.
Very few know the importance of this method, let alone the method. Because of this omission, the entire vidya proves to be meaningless inasmuch as it becomes objective. The teacher through the traditional method of the sruti puts the student in actual experience, as the former teaches, in a peculair way that is tradition, the nature of the Self, the ‘I’. Swami Pranavananda was one such master teacher. His deft handling of the scripture frame pradoxes used to, as even the Zen Master’ Koans, disentangle the student’s reason from its relative concepts and thereby brings in the sudden recognition or Satori.
I discovered in his classes this main aspect of our traditional teaching. When I met him a couple of months ago, he was laid up in bed. But he was clear in his thinking and happy as usual. He knew that there was no cure for the disease he was suffering from. As I took leave of him after a two day stay in the ashram, I requested him to give me a message to the seekers. He dictated immediately in Telugu to one of the inmates of the ashram a few lines, indeed the essence of our scriptures. I translate the same the same hereunder:
‘The disease that has come upon this body is too serious for any cure, it will disappear only at the cost of this body. Therefore the medicines or doctors are not to blame if they fail to be effective. Due to this helplessness, my mind is in no way afflicted. I consider that it is all for the good.
Freedom is the nature of the Self, the ‘I’, and the Self is identical with Brahman which is non-dual. Therefore, the Self as even Brahman is free from all mode of duality, such as sajatiya, vijatiya and svagata.
In the last verse of the Bhagavad-Gita, it is said that brahmi sthiti is the lot of this life and therefore death cannot travel with the prana.
Karma and upasana are pursued by the people only because of their identification with the body, dehatma buddhi. The body which is not the Self, the ‘I’ is taken for the Self and it is because of this reason there is pursuit of Karma and Upasana. Therefore this pursuit cannot be held as moksa.
Suppose a person by name Rama is asleep, if he is called by someone, ‘Rama’, he wakes up. Similarly with profound words of the sruti if the master reveals to the student the identity of the Self with the Absolute, the student wakes up to discover his identity with Brahman.
Therefore moksa is only through the teaching of the Master and Sruti. It is this that is meant by Sankara in his famous verse ‘brahma satyam jagan mithya jivo brahiva naparah’. Brahman the Absolute is Reality; the world is apparent; jiva the knower is not different from Brahman, the Absolute. This, and this alone is the message of Adi Sankara. All others take after this teaching. Therefore they have no original content.
‘That Thou Art’ is the profound statement of truth revealed to Svetaketu as we find in the Sama Veda. The ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ mahavakya known as upadesha vakya is the foremost among all other staements in the sruti. All other statements are centered on this alone.
Karma and upasana are performed retaining the ahankara. This enjoyment of fruits of action is only when the ‘I’ is taken for ego. And liberation and bondage also, while they belong to the ego, appear as though they are belonging to the ‘I’.
This lack of discrimination, which is something natural to the intellect that is extrovert, will not easily go unless one listens for a good length of time from the Master, the scriptures, and reflects and contemplates over what he has heard.
Therefore living with the Master, gurukulavasa, is imperative. It is because of this only, sanyasasrama is in vogue. This is the essence of all the Shastras. Keep this always in your heart. The notion that the world is real has got to be dispelled. This is practice, contemplation.’
The Swami dictated all this in his usual clarity of expression. He was clear that there was no death for a sadhu, nor I feel he ever died.”