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