Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Ecology In The Bhagavad-Gita - Swami Dayananda

There are people who are highly concerned that humanity is in danger. They warn that if conditions continue like this, if people don’t care, the ozone hole will become so huge that people will have a radiation problem. For some, the whole concern is for the life of human beings and the suffering that they will have in the long run. Therefore, they say that in order to protect human life, we have to protect the environment, maintain the ecological balance—save the trees, save the rainforest and create green lungs everywhere.

While we agree with this, the Gita has a wider perspective that includes all forms of life. Why don’t all forms of life deserve protection? Why only human life? What is distinct about human beings and why do we place human worth above that of other creatures? What is the sanctity of human life? In which way are the lives of other creatures on this planet less sacred than human life?

In the third chapter of the Gita, we have:

devaan bhaavayataanena te devaah bhaavayantu vah
parasparam bhaavayantah shreyah paramavaapsyatha (BG 3.11)

Propitiate the deities with this (yajna). May those deities propitiate you. Propitiating one another, you shall gain The highest good (moksha). (BG 3.11)

The perspective offered by this verse is not even limited to life on this earth—its scope is cosmic. The Gita here is talking about an awareness of all the forces. In this vision, the natural forces of the universe are not separate from Ishvara, the Lord, for the universe is a manifestation of Ishvara, the Lord. We can look at this Lord from the standpoint of a given force. As such, any phenomenon, any force, is considered a devata, a deity. This entire jagat—the world of names and forms, including natural forces—is a manifestation of the Lord. It is not that Ishvara at a certain time created the jagat as separate from himself. Although we may refer to the jagat as a ‘creation’ from the standpoint of the Lord as a conscious, all-knowing being, this is not ‘creationism’. We may use the word ‘creation’, but we follow it by the word ‘manifestation.’ Why?
In the view of creationism, the creator is separate from his creation. Since the creator must have a place, where, then, does he reside? If he is a distinct entity, where will he be? He would have to be located in space. But space itself is a part of the whole space/time creation. Where was the creator when he created space? The creator cannot be in space and create space, for if he is in space, space has already been created. If he is inside space, who created space? It is also not possible for him to be outside space, spatially. The Lord cannot be an individual located outside space, because which is the space that is outside space? Both ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ refer to space. The only real possibility is that space is not separate from the Lord.
Only if we conceive of space/time as absolute is the creationism model feasible. But modern physics, consistent with the vision of Vedanta, has shown that space/time is not absolute. It has been proven that space and time are collapsible and that they come to manifest along with the other things. If that is so, space is more a manifestation of whatever was the unmanifest cause. ‘Creation’ is the formful aspect of the unmanifest—nothing new has been ‘created’. Space and time and everything in space and time—the whole thing—is a manifestation of Ishvara. Therefore, space itself cannot be separate from the Lord.
If that is so, then an awareness on the part of human beings that they are not isolated entities and that the entire jagat is a manifestation of Ishvara, is in order. With this awareness, we can strike harmony with the world; without or against this awareness, we can constantly rub against our world. The truth of rubbing is the one who rubs, who creates disharmony, gets rubbed. You cannot rub against something without getting rubbed in the process. That is the truth. And we are rubbed all the time, because we keep rubbing against the order of things. We rub each other and we rub other life forms and matter. And then we say that the world is inimical to us, and want to save ourselves from the world.
Our foolishness is that we rub and then complain that the world rubs us. “Why me?” is a common expression. “Why me?” Everybody asks the same thing. Nobody is exempt from asking, “Why me?” “Why me?” In everybody’s life, there are innumerable occasions to ask, “Why me?” In the morning getting up you may ask, “Why me?” Although you may use different words, the equivalent forms are constantly being murmured. This is due to not being in harmony with what is. In order to be in harmony with the world, you have to change the whole picture. You must have a bigger picture. Without a bigger picture, small things become big things. With a bigger picture, small things become smaller. The bigger the picture is, the smaller is your problem. The big picture really resolves problems, and Vedanta gives you the biggest picture possible. In this discussion, however, I am not talking of the biggest picture—just a bigger picture. The amazing fact is that even the bigger picture is enough to free you from a lot of rubbing.

The Gita says that your awareness should not fall short of covering, of recognizing, Ishvara as the force because of which all life forms and matter are possible. The reverence for forms is a very, very important thing. Unfortunately, in many theologies, this reverence has been destroyed. Some theologies prohibited worship of any form made of hands or by nature, and located God somewhere far away from us. It was assumed that by doing so, they were updating tribal religion. In fact, in the process, theologies have lost their reverence for forms.

Such reverence, as expressed in the Gita and other works, is an essential part of Hindu culture. When, as a child, I kicked the ground, my mother would say, “Hey, don’t kick the ground. That is mother earth.” “What mother earth? It’s dirt”, I said. “No! It’s mother earth, prithivi maataa.” Then I would think, “Oh, this is mother, maataa.”

I come from an agricultural family. During a particular month, the water would flow in the river and the agricultural operation would begin. The first thing was to sow the seeds, the paddy seeds. Then, after a few days or a month, they would remove the seedlings and transplant them in the fields. This operation was done by all the villages. Before sowing, although each villager would sow on his own piece of land, all the villagers would come and do pujaa to a piece of land that belonged to the temple. They would do pujaa to the earth. Seeing this as children, we naturally developed a reverence for the earth. That shows a concern not for my life alone—but for the one that bears the life. Mother earth is not just something inert.

Inert is a point of view. For instance, when you dream, you dream mountains and you dream mountain lions. In the dream, the mountain lions are sentient and the mountains are inert. But you, the dreamer, are not inert, and the dream universe is nothing but you. It is you who are the dream characters and scenery. You are the creator and you are the manifestation of the dream world. So when the dream character thinks that the dream mountain is inert, it’s purely a point of view. You may say one—the dream mountain—is insentient, and the other—the dream mountain lion—is sentient. But really, both of them are not separate from you—the sentient you who is dreaming. It is the same with Ishvara, the Lord. Everything we see in ‘creation’—other beings, as well as what we consider ‘inert’ material—is not separate from the Lord. That is why we don’t take mother earth for granted. The same is true for the other natural elements. Water is called Varuna. The air that you breath in is Vaayu. Tvam eva pratyaksham brahmaasi. “You alone are the perceptible Brahman.” In fact, we don’t even need a form to evoke reverence. Vaayu, Air, is enough for us. Space is enough. Time is also revered by us.

Time is generally the one that people are afraid of, except when it is Fourth of July and you have a holiday. Otherwise, time is the one that frightens everyone. That is because time levels everybody. It is just with you, silent—a silent assassin. A silent destroyer, it changes the hair of all—the black haired-one, the blonde-haired one—into what we call gray. That, of course, is assuming that any hair is still there! Time is ubiquitous. It doesn’t spare anybody or anything. Empires crumble in its wake. But for Hindus, time is an object of worship. Is there another culture where death itself can be considered God? Death is not an ordinary thing. Hindus worship Mrityu—Dharmaraaja. So that we have no fear of death, we worship. Suppose you see Mr. Death coming? You have to acknowledge him with reverence, you do namaste. He may even spare you for some time, because he has to reciprocate your namaste. Because death is considered a natural part of the whole process, the fear of death goes away.

Similarly, every phenomenon, every force that is here, from the standpoint of Ishvara, the Lord, is not inert because it is a manifestation of that Lord. The awareness of forms being not separate from Ishvara makes you aware of your environment cosmically. Our environment doesn’t stop with the atmosphere. The ‘environment’ has an extending radius. To begin with, the environment is your neighborhood. Then, extend that to the county, the state, the country, the continent, the globe, the system, the galaxy and the universe—that’s our environment. It is not an ordinary one, really. It’s an amazing one, having so much to offer in terms of your own intellectual adventure—so much to offer. We make inroads into Ishvara’s mind when we explore and understand a particular subject matter. Therefore, we don’t consider any knowledge to be secular. It is all Ishvara’s knowledge.

To be in harmony with the environment, the Gita tells us to simply do what we have got to do every day, with a certain awareness. Let all the devataas, the deities, do their jobs. Let the sun shine. Let the air blow, and let it not get stuck in one place. Vaati iti vaayuh, “Air is that which moves.” We need all the natural forces. Let every one of them function. In fact, we don’t call them ‘forces’; we call them devataas, because we are not referring to some merely material force. ‘Force’ is Ishvara, the Lord, a singular noun that means all the forces together. All the forces are one force. Otherwise, they would be in conflict with one another. They form one singular force, which we call shakti. In Star Wars we heard, “May the Force be with you.” May shakti be with you, the shakti of the Lord. That’s the force.

If I am aware of the bigger picture, how can I ever do anything inimical to this planet and to any life form that is here? How can I eat an animal? It is very difficult. How can I harm anybody? How can I harm anything—even the minerals? In other words, how can I abuse them? I can use them, because we are all mutually dependent. I contribute, I consume. I am not merely a consumer—I am a contributor, too.

Sometimes the contribution is to create what I had to destroy. For instance, I am told in our Dharma Shaastra that if you must cut a tree, then you should plant some also. It is not an easy thing for a tree to grow to full height. It may take twenty years or thirty years—then in a few moments it is cut down. The tree has survived storms, cyclones, and more. When it was a small plant, in order to grow it had to survive the stray goat, the hungry cow, and the idiotic human being. Once it finally became a tree, someone may have cut it down with a chain saw. In earlier times, using a handsaw, it took some time to finish cutting down the tree. In the process, the person may wonder, “Should I cut this tree?” He may discover, “No, I should not” and go away. These days, however, it takes only a few minutes to fell a tree. So one does not have the time to reflect upon and change the action. If it is a whole day’s work, then you may be able to change your mind. Even if during one hour you don’t change, at least there is the possibility that in next hour you may, so that not much damage is done to that huge tree. Still it will survive. It may have survived twenty-five years to become this big tree. Some trees have even taken a hundred years, two hundred years, to grow. The coastal redwood trees in California have survived five hundred years or even a thousand years or more. Still the trees are there. And you go and cut them? It is an idiotic thing to do. But people do that. Sometimes you have to cut a tree. The Dharma Shaastra tells me that when I cut a tree, it is a paapa, a wrong action that has undesirable consequences. Therefore, it tells me I should plant ten trees somewhere. Sometimes you fell a tree because you want timber. Or, it is in a wrong place, according to you, because you have decided to put a house there. In fact, it is in the right place. It is standing there, poor thing, never knowing that you would come there. Had it known, it would have grown somewhere else. But the tree, unfortunately, cannot walk around. It is supposed to be so. If the trees and plants were to walk around, you couldn’t get your salad because when you went to pick the vegetables, they would all run away. You would find the spinach running away, all the mango trees running away. Already we have traffic problems. That’s why they are sthaavara, stationary. They have to be what they are. They have to provide you with food.

All food is vegetarian. You can have a non-vegetarian meal, but food is basically vegetarian. When I say that you can have a non-vegetarian meal, I am not giving a sanction for that. I don’t want to disturb you, that’s all. You can have a non-vegetarian meal but food is vegetarian, because if you eat a goat, a cow, or any animal, it has to first find food to give you food. To give itself as food, it has to find food. Where does it find food? In the same plants and trees alone. Oshadhibhyah annam, “From the plants comes food.” Therefore, food is vegetarian. You can have a non-vegetarian meal by making that cow eat the grass—the vegetarian food—and then eating the cow. That is not environmentally healthy, really. Eating the cow is neither healthy for you nor is it environmentally healthy. In fact, I would say it is wrong. It is wrong in the sense that I can live without eating the cow. When I can live without it, why disturb the cow? That is why the cow has been given four legs and the trees are not given legs—they are sthaavara, stationary. My food is outside, and it is vegetarian. “What is eaten is food,” adyate iti annam and “Food is from the plant kingdom,” oshadhibhyah annam. I’m sorry, but that is the truth. All the proteins, all the carbohydrates, have to come from vegetarian food. So, although you can have a non-vegetarian meal, all food is vegetarian because there is no other source. On this planet there is only one source of food, and that is vegetarian.

When I cut a tree, I have to plant ten trees. Thereby, I protect. I am asked to do that by the shaastra. Otherwise, it’s a paapa. There is also awareness, not only of the life forms, but even of the so-called ‘inert’ matter, such as minerals, that are here. All of these are not to be taken for granted. They are here; I am here. I am a consumer; I also contribute to their welfare. Even an acknowledgment of the devataas is expected of me. It’s not that the devatas won’t function without that reverence, but my awareness of their contribution makes the environment, the cosmic environment, different. That is so because I am not totally programmed. I am a person, endowed with choice. And I have to exercise my choice; I have no choice in exercising my choice. What choice do I have to not exercise my choice? I have no choice. Because I can choose, I have to be aware of the whole cosmic environment, and choose to do what is required in a given situation. You do what is proper, what is the least hurtful. When you must hurt, you do the least hurtful thing. And be aware of the forces, letting those forces, those devataas —Ishvara—bless you. You are aware of them, and you invoke their grace.

By being reverentially aware of all the life forms and minerals that are here, you can deal with the more topical environmental problems. This ‘cosmic awareness’ precludes your destroying anything. We protect as well as we can. And the forces will protect us. That’s how it is. You have to protect what is to be protected. What is to protect you, you should protect. You can’t lose that. If you have armour, you should maintain it properly. When you are fighting with bows and arrows, your armour can’t be full of holes. If you are a right-handed tennis player at Wimbledon, you have to protect your right hand properly because it blesses you. The whole thing is in your hand—all the monies you’ve earned are all in one hand. If you are a right-hander, it is only in one hand. If you are a double-hander, it is in two hands. And so, you have to protect those hands properly. The whole cosmos is an environment that protects us. We are beholden to protect it. And that environment also includes fellow human beings.

That’s why the goal of environmentalism cannot be merely to protect human beings as an end in itself. It is not sound to simply try to protect human beings while justifying their destruction of the other life forms and matter, on the basis that humans are a more complex life form. I don’t find that human life is more sacred than the life of a bird or a worm—that is also life. If you argue that it is only a simple form of life, I say that a simple life form is more sacred because it is in harmony with its environment. It is this complex life form that is a problem. A simple life form at least does not go about destroying everything else. Its behaviour is programmed.

The more complex the life form is, the more aware you have to be. As a human, you are a self-aware being; that is your distinction. Naturally, you have to be aware of everything else. If you are aware of everything else, then I would say human life is really something special. For unlike the cow, you have been given a tremendous freedom—the special capacity to choose your actions based on your awareness. This freedom stems from the very self that you are conscious of. It comes from there, because that self you are aware of is the plus you have. In that plus is your freedom. Although the self is there for a cow, too, it doesn’t seem to be totally aware of the self. If it were, it would have complexes like you have. This self that I am aware of gives me a freedom to choose to do or not to do.

You can choose to have a couple of months out of the year to hunt deer. For two months, during ‘deer hunting season’, you are free to hunt the deer. Why not also give the deer a chance to hunt you? Suppose the deer population decided, “Human beings are too numerous these days, and that is not good for us. I think for two months we will hunt them.” Then we are in the same boat. Then it’s fair, a free-for-all—survival of the fittest. I don’t agree with the justification that, “Swamiji, at this rate, the deer population will increase.” Let them increase. Why do you bother about that? Let them take care of it. We take on responsibilities that we are not supposed to assume. It is like someone losing sleep, worrying, “What should I do to make the sun rise in the morning?” If he considers this to be his problem, what can you do? We carry too many things that we need not. It is like a lady on the early morning train, which is empty, who is carrying a big basket of vegetables on her head. When she was asked, “Why are you carrying that on your head? Why don’t you put it down?” she replied, “I don’t want to load down the train.” We have too many loads like this. Think about all the loads you believe you are carrying, which you are not really carrying, which, in fact, somebody else is carrying. Yet we worry about what will happen tomorrow if we don’t carry these loads. What will happen tomorrow? Exactly what happened yesterday. Tomorrow the sun will rise. You are worried about the weather, so you check the forecast—what will the temperature be tomorrow? All right, now that you know the temperature, what are you going to do? Are you going to change it? If the forecast says that tomorrow will be 98 degrees, from now on, you worry about how hot it is going to be.
We create problems. We are funny people, really. We say we are evolutes of monkeys, but you should talk to the monkeys. I can imagine a conversation with a monkey, “You know, human beings are evolutes of you fellows.” The monkey said, “What?!! They are evolutes? If that is the case, we don’t want to evolve!” What kind of evolutes are we? If you have a bigger picture, however, then you can enjoy what the monkeys cannot. Otherwise, monkeys are better off. They don’t destroy the environment as we do. If we leave them alone, they just fall into their slots in the scheme of things. Every snail, every oyster, falls into its own slot. It doesn’t really transgress it, but rather, does exactly what is expected of it. We have to learn that so that we don’t rub against our environment and so that we avoid getting rubbed. That is real ecology.

Om Tat Sat

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Pujya Swamiji, the Mahatma I Know

Pujya Swamiji is the One is all – the All is in Him the One.

 Pujya Swamiji is everything to me…. so it is difficult to coherently put together all that I want to say.

You cannot separate Pujya Swamiji from his vision. He is his vision. That is what makes him The Mahatma, I know.

When we come to Vedanta it implies so much Grace showering on  us … because now we are going against the tide. The tide of human thinking is that life is dual, that I am one and everything else is different from me. This thinking is very much present with us in our every thought, in our every transaction with the world. Our perception is dual and we then transact from that perception of duality. Because of this perception of duality, each of us is an individual, very, very small in our heart and in our thinking … often we are just coping with our lives, coping with the world. That is our life’s tide.

Going against the tide, is having a shift in our vision, our perception –coming to Vedanta and recognizing that there is a  non-negatable truth about us and that truth is non-dual … that truth is non-dually one.  

Pujya Swamiji embodies that vision – he revels in that vision and he lives from that vision. For him all that is here is Ishvara … there is nothing else here in his vision, the vision of the Vedas.  All that is here, without exception, is Ishvara. ‘Idam sarvam’ which comprises of the subject and object , the experiencer and the experienced … all that is here is Ishvara…. non-dual changeless Consciousness manifesting by its own shakti  as all this that is here.
When such a mahatma  is your Guru …. and you live with him and see this vision manifesting in his life, in his every relationship with his devotees, his disciples, his family, the leaders who come for his advice, the public who come flocking to him seeking help,  and today his doctors and caretakers, …. anybody who comes into transaction with him … you find in yourself a tripti – a sense of fulfillment, which comes as a blessing from him in the form of the vision that he has transferred to you.  

Pujya Swamiji, The Mahatma I know, is incomparable as Guru – not just a teacher of Vedanta … he is a Guru. As a Guru, he not only teaches me Vedanta, he takes me on as a person, who accepts me with all my eccentricities and peculiarities and areas of vulnerability and craziness!! He accepts me inspite of all the negative transference. In that acceptance and in his extraordinary patience with me and that intimate knowledge of my psyche, he transforms me from a person suffering from all the problems of a individual subject to suffering , to a contented, peaceful person who is more and more comfortable being myself.
As Guru, Swamiji’s emphasis for his students, has always been on, getting the vision of Advaita, the vision of the Vedas, right. For him the study of Sanskrit is a tool, that gives us enough knowledge to be able to read and understand the Shankara bhasya on our own. Yet if there are some weaklings in Sanskrit, he does not deny that person the teaching, or his understanding care.  When he takes a student for the 3 year course, he takes the student on for life I think … so he is immensely patient and understanding with each of his student’s vulnerabilities. His compassion and his vision is such that his sankalpa is always that may the student complete the course, at whatever level of understanding they may be. He does not expect his students to be uttama adhikaris  who have no human weaknesses! He rather understands the background of the students, and tries his level best to help out the students emotionally so that they may grow to assimilate the vision.   His students may abandon him because of their negative transferences, but he never abandons a student.

As a teacher, Swamiji, in my perception, is incomparable. Much has been said about Swamiji, the teacher. Swamiji’s passion is clarity. He says there is nothing as beautiful as clarity. He says wisdom is clarity of what is centered on 'I'. He has brought immense clarity into a few areas in the traditional teaching of Vedanta where there has been much confusion.

Swamiji,  puts a lot of emphasis on the meaning of mithya  in the context of the empirical reality, as being  something that has a dependent reality. While Pujya Swamiji does point out that mithya also has the meaning of ‘false’, for the purpose of truly understanding the vision of the Vedas, he points out that this whole jagat, is a dependent reality – not non-existent, nor false – but rather dependent on Brahman. He helps me settle account with the changing world, in understanding it as a dependent reality, never separate from me, the self-revealing changeless consciousness. How is that possible? He makes me see yes it is possible … such is my shakti, it makes the impossible possible. He makes this vision possible and real for me.
Swamiji uses the rope-snake example, famous in Vedanta, for a limited purpose - to point out a subjective reality (pratibhasikam) – a reality that is existent only in my head! To understand the reality of the world that we confront, he uses the clay-pot example, the ocean-wave example – revealing in his own inimitable style, that all that is here is one and one alone – non-dual. Having made sure that his disciples have understood satyam and  mithya,  he unfolds that the mithya jagat  is an intelligent inter-related  network of Infallible Order – cause-effect relationships – wielded by Ishvara, who is Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnipresent. With this understanding of Ishvara as the Order that pervades that that is, Swamiji helps us all to resolve the human problem of the sense of isolation and alienation, in our understanding of Ishvara as the one who pervades us in the form of Order, which includes the psychological Order.

Pujya Swamiji reveals the secrets of Karma Yoga as none else can. Karma Yoga is possible only when the vision of Ishvara is in place… because Karma Yoga is about attitude with reference to action and its result. Attitude is always based on understanding – and the attitudes such as Ishvara-arpana buddhi  and prasada-buddhi are based on understanding  that all that is here is Ishvara. Pujya Swamiji’s compassions allows him to bring into the fold of Karma Yoga, not only Vaidikas, but  all mumukshus,  by helping them to recognize the importance of accepting the result of even  their actions driven by ambition and need for personal reward as prasada.

Pujya Swamiji takes great pains to bring out  clearly the difference between   vividisha sanyasa, the ritually taken sanyasa for the sake of pursuit of knowledge, and  the sanyasa  by knowledge or vidvat sanyasa.

Pujya Swamiji points out with stunning clarity how the  ‘Avidya’ used in the tradition, is to be understood.  See this link : Understanding The Technical Word 'Avidya'.

Swamiji walks into every area of my life … through understanding of values, through understanding of human psychology. Swamiji’s unfolding of Ishwara in the form of Order, touches my heart and makes space for transformation like nothing else does. He makes me recognize that I am okay in Ishvara’s Order. In Ishvara’s order when I am acceptable, for Pujya Swamiji when I am acceptable, then why not I accept myself as I am. That self-acceptance frees me and paves the way for me to understand and own up that ‘I am The Whole’ as is.

Pujya Swamiji’s clarity finds expression in his communication style. He is a born teacher. As a teacher, he unfolds complex concepts with great ease, making the listener see as he sees. He transfers the knowledge in his head to the listeners head, through his communication style.

Swamiji said once to me, ‘Basically I am a mystic, though I don’t encourage mysticism’. See this link : On Mystics and Mysticism 

Pujya Swamiji, the Mahatma, I know, cannot be separated from his compassion. His compassion makes him so big … that’s the only word I can think of … big. Swamiji is as big as Brahman in his compassion … he is like the Lord who accepts us all unequivocally. Compassion is surely mahatma lakshanam. His compassion makes him teach. His magnanimity in seeing us his disciples with a freshness every moment, not holding our negative transferences on him, against us, accepting and loving us, holding our emotions like none else, is unparalleled. In my perception, his compassion stems from his vision of non-duality … he truly does not see a second … all that is here is Ishvara, is the truth that one is … and all human problems stems from the non-recognition of that fact … so there is this huge compassion that stems from his vision of non-duality, his understanding of the human psyche being in Order, Ishvara’s Order.

I have seen Pujya Swamiji’s extraordinary compassion with some of his disciples, when their unconscious is playing out in socially unacceptable ways. He will give them endless chances to grow, even sometimes to the point of what others may perceive as a fault.  He sees the good in people, and seems to  ignores unacceptable behaviours. He recognizes that behaviours are often mechanical and they stem from people’s  backgrounds – and he is compassionate and accepting of the person. He often says nobody is a criminal. He looks upon each individual as a person – and sometimes the person has some behaviours which are not acceptable. When you perceive people like this, you do not label them and then dismiss them.

If it is within his capacity to help somebody – physically, financially, emotionally or intellectually Swamiji will. When somebody comes to him for help he will never think, “how can I get rid of this person”. He will try his best to render whatever help he can.
After his morning class, the public flock to see him. The public usually wants something from him. They come to him for financial help, for recommendations for job, for blessings for more wealth, job promotion, getting children … its endless. Swamiji renders whatever help he can, and countless blessings. He also helps people by giving simple down-to-earth practical guidance in every walk of life.

When my father passed away, my mother was very depressed. She left there was nothing more to live for. The children were grown up – she might as well leave this world. When I told Pujya Swamiji, he asked me to bring her to him, She came to him with a heavy heart. He spoke normally to her and then asked her to walk with him a short distance. He walked with her with a hand on her head. And she does not know how, but magically all the darkness in her heart vanished and she regained her enthusiasm for life.

In my personal life also, Pujya Swamiji’s countless unseen blessings have lifted me from the deepest depressions to a person who has great fulfillment in my life. After my course, Pujya Swamiji sent me to Toronto. It was an eye-opening experience for me. I came in touch with different cultures, different ways of living and it really broadened my perception of life.  It also taught me to live independently and made me a much stronger person. It indirectly blessed me in many other ways. Pujya Swamiji possibly saw all of this.

Pujya Swamiji gave me an opportunity to serve him when he made me the head-office coordinator for AIM For Seva. I got many opportunities to personally serve him. Again what I observed was his compassions and his utter surrender to the Order. Swamiji is bold and fearless - he does not believe in planned living – after all he is a Mahatma … so Swamiji’s life is an evidence of living moment to moment, one day at a time, in utter acceptance of Ishwara’s Order. He always believes that ‘Don’t worry about money. You start the good work, money will come’. We with our planning buddhi would worry and grumble, that how can we raise funds, we should start only after the funds are raised etc etc… and inevitably we found Swamiji was right … funds for his good works would come … all we had to do was start. And because of his blessings … the work would always go on … funds will come and the good works will go on.

Pujya Swamiji, the Mahatma I know, is also a great bold and fearless leader. He travelled the length and breadth of this great country, when his health was failing, out of his love for this great Vedic culture, meeting the heads of different ancient mutts to form the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, so that Hindus can think and speak with one voice regarding important contemporary matters that concern the Hindu religion. With great foresight,  he  founded the Dharma Raksha Sabha also, raising awareness in all the religious leaders about the importance of unity in all walks of  Hindus.

As a person, Pujya Swamiji, is the most endearing person I know. He is so strong and bold. Yet sometimes he is vulnerable. Swamiji is so sensitive to his students.  And I am sure that sometimes he must have felt hurt by his students negative transference. Students with negative transference can project and believe all their projections to be real. It can be very hurting until one understands it is all transference and this has to happen for the disciple to grow. So for me, Swamiji is so real.  Once Swamiji told me, ‘I am a teflon Swami, You can tell me anything!’ Like Lord Rama was vulnerable with reference to Sita being kidnapped – and that vulnerability did not make him any less an avatara, or any less great, so too Pujya Swamiji made me understand that vulnerability is human, in Order and that does not make anybody any less a jnani.

A characteristic of Pujya Swamiji is his love, reverence and gratitude for his Gurus, Swami Chinmayanandaji, Swami Pranavanandaji, and Swami Taranandaji. He always says that each of his Gurus is great and he is who he is only because of the blessings of his Gurus. It has been very touching  to see, and also something to emulate – his reverence and love for his Gurus. 

After his illness last year, Swamiji goes for an evening walk in the lecture hall at Annaikatti. First he will go to the Guru corner and pay his respects there. Then he will walk around the lecture hall, coming back to the Guru corner again. Before leaving the hall, again he does namaskaras to the Gurus and then leaves.  One of his fond reminiscences is about how Swami Pranavananda used to ask him to make avial. Swamiji will tell us exactly how to make the avial that Swami Pranavanandaji loved. 

Pujya Swamiji also loves Rishikesh because it was the place where he really enjoyed learning the Shastra, he enjoyed the company of other sadhus, reveling in some of their eccentricities, he enjoyed bathing in the Ganga, he enjoyed feeding the sadhus through bhandaras. It is in Rishikesh that most of his disciples received their sanyasa also.

Pujya Swamiji has a great love for learning, for knowledge. His love of knowledge, made him a avid  reader, and it is astounding to see Swamiji’s detailed knowledge on a wide variety of subjects. Once when I was doing the course, I had gone to see Swamiji after lunch and he spent an hour telling me about the usefulness every single part of the coconut tree. He can talk about black holes, quantum physics, the theory of relativity, camels and their humps, the glory of the humble ant, the magnificence of the eye … its endless.

He is a rasika of music and a composer of music. As a composer his lyrics on Bhagavan are matchless. Press Link below :-

Great performers from all over India both musicians and dancers flock to the Annaikatti Gurukulam to be able to perform their arts in his presence. Swamiji has instituted the ‘Arsha Kala Bhushanam’ award with a citation of Rs 1 lakh, for prominent artists who have contributed to the field of dance and music. He also confers the title of ‘Arsha Kula Shrestha’ to those who have contributed to humanity through  Ayurveda, and other shadangas of the Vedas.

Pujya Swamiji always tells us that ahimsa is the highest value. Pujya Swamiji has refined to a fine art, the expression of  ahimsa in communication. The value of ahimsa is very dear to him – and in this context we can say with full confidence, that not a word will pass through him, which does not have the stamp of his approval, whether it is at the time of teaching, or when he is interacting with people. This stands testimony to the tapas in Pujya Swamiji’s life.

Now, working so closely with Swamiji, as somebody serving him, through handling his mail, I see the care he takes to read the mail of his students and he makes sure he answers immediately , even if it is a one-line answer. He deeply cares about the physical, emotional and spiritual welfare of his students. And when you place your trust and affection at His altar, he reciprocates with utmost love.

Pujya Swamiji is the most sensitive human being I know – most sensitive, I would even venture to say he is telepathic. That must be very uncomfortable sometimes, when students are having negative transferences. As a student of the three year course from 1995-1998, I would feel sometimes a great need to at least see Pujya Swamiji. Chandra Amma would say Swamiji is not coming out. I would linger in the outer room praying to Lord Dakshinamurty for his darshan and lo behold, suddenly he would come out. His coming out would be like the sun coming out on cloudy day. I used to believe and I still believe, that if I placed my anxieties and thoughts at Lord Dakshinamurti’s feet Pujya Swamiji would come to know and help me out in some way. I have much evidence to believe it is true. In this respect for me, Swamiji is like Ishvara, for me he is the antah-sakshi –the inner witness – I know him to be my Ishwara, who accepts me as I am and so I have nothing to hide from him and I feel safe with him.

A very sacred and blessed moment is receiving a mantra from your Guru.  I received many mantras from Pujya Swamiji and each time it was a very sacred moment. I would feel Pujya Swamiji as a very Divine and Blessing presence. And even as I chanted the mantras I received from Him, I would see myself connected to Ishvara, through him. It has been a great blessing receiving the mantra-deeksha from him. I believe it has been transformational in my life. 

Often, I would feel Pujya Swamiji as a Divine and Blessing presence – the moments of total silence in our minds, we know Him as the presence that is always there– like when we would go to him after meditation.

A  couple of years ago I asked Pujya Swamiji for  padukas.  It was a very sacred moment receiving the padukas. I was quite overwhelmed with emotion of Guru bhakti as I did the small puja before receiving the padukas and Pujya Swamiji blessed me with a mantra saying he used to say that mantra mentally everytime he bowed to his Gurus. He said he had never shared this with anyone and this made that moment even more special. I felt so blessed and I was moved to tears.  That mantra is now a part of my daily japa and my namaskaram to Him.

Pujya Swamiji, the Mahatma I know, has a unique relationship with each of his devotees, with each of his disciples. He has touched us, he has made us, he has blessed us. He lives in all that is worthy in us, in our every great and noble thought, in our every good decision, value, attitude and feelings of love, compassion, and patriotism. Pujya Swamiji's life has been so rich in contribution. He truly is a role-model for us.

I don’t know if we can ever love him the way he has loved us and the way he loves us. I know for sure we can never give back to him a fraction of what he has given us. Once in one of his impassioned talks he said ‘Aho Shastram! Aho Shastram! and indeed we have to say “Aho Guru! Aho Guru! Aho Guru! Dhanyoham! Dhanyoham! Dhanyoham!”.

I don’t imagine that any one of us, or all of us collectively can ever give back to him, even a small measure of what he has contributed in our lives. All we can do is pray on this day, August 15 2015, and everyday, with one heart, for his well-being, for comfort in his body, and that we may teach and pass on his legacy of teaching to humanity, the way he would want it to be passed on.

Om Tat Sat