An article written by Sadhu Rangarajan in Aug-Oct 1993 issue of Tattva Darsana!
Reminiscences of my SikshaGuru
tasmai shree guruve namah!
“Salutations to the Guru who with the collyrium stick of knowledge has opened the eyes of one blinded by the disease of ignorance.”
Bliss is it to be brought under the tutelage of a self-realised spiritual giant when one is just a youth imbued with a spirit of inquiry and an impulse for dynamic action. This sadhu had the rare privilege to come under the spell of my Sikshaaguru, Paramapoojaneeya Swami Chinmayanandaji Maharaj, when this sadhu was at the prime of youth. And today, when the great Master has attained Mahasamadhi, not a drop of tear trickled down the eyes of this humble disciple, for the Master has taught him not to feel sad or mourn the departure of a spiritual preceptor who leaves the world, but try to translate into one’s own life all the ideals that one’s master taught and make the Master live through the ideals in action.
In the later half of the nineteen fiftees, this sadhu who was then a young college student at Ernakulam, was inspired very much by the works of Karl Marx, Engels, Tolstoy and Pushkin on the one hand and by the writings of Mahatma Gandhi, Vinobha and Kumarappa on the other. There was a total confusion in his mind as to what constituted the right path for an idealist’s life. His orthodox father was deeply immersed in the parayana of the Bhagavad Gita and Vishnu Sahasranama or at time in pouring out in melodious voice, the soul-stirring kritis of Saint Tyagaraja, but this sadhu, carried away by his rationalistic ideas, considered him to be too much of a reactionary. It was at such a juncture that, one evening, this sadhu noticed his father coming home unusually late in the evening after his usual stroll to the temple. This sadhu found out that his father was attending to a Gita discourse in English by a very powerful orator sannyasi who was then in the town. He also came to know that the Swami was none other than a member of the Poothampilli family whose house was not far away from his own. This sannyasi, Swami Chinmayananda, had spent several years in the Himalayas sitting at the feet of Swami Sivananda and later at the feet of Tapovan Maharaj, mastering all scriptures and doing intense spiritual sadhana and just recently he had burst forth like a bombshell on the cities of India, giving his discourses in English on the Bhagavad Gita and attracting big crowds. Hearing the glory of the Swami from the proud neighbours in his home town, this sadhu, a youth in his teens, decided to meet him. He listened to one of the talks of the Swami and was fascinated by his oratorical skill and sense of humour, but was still skeptical about what he said. He approached the Swami and blurted out: “Swamiji, I am not convinced about the existence of God or the need for religion”. Pat came the reply: “I want a young man like you. What is the use of my lecturing to those who are already convinced?” That day, that moment, brought this young man under the spell of the great Master .
This sadhu’s father looked at him with disbelief when he told his dad that he had joined the Mission of the Swami and he was inviting the Swami to our abode to start a Chinmaya Study Group. But it happened and one fine morning before his departure from the town, the Swami accompanied by some ardent devotees including Smt. Janaki N. Menon, the Secretary of the local Mission branch, drove to our house. As soon as his arrival was announced, my orthodox father rushed out with a copper plate in hand, followed by my mother with a pot full of water and a pitcher of milk. They received the Swami with due honours and did pada pooja to him. After a grand satsang marked by an inspiring talk of the Swami, when he left the place, the most orthodox Brahmins in the neighbourhood surrounded my father and asked him in a hushed up voice: “Hey, what have you done? He is a nair, and that too younger to you in age. You have done the paada pooja!” My orthodox father coolly replied: “I know, he was Poothampilli Balakrishnan in his poorvashrama. But he is now Swami Chinmayananda, a sannyasi who is beyond all varnas.” It was a startling revelation to this sadhu that the staunch orthodoxy of a brahmin was not opposed to the extreme rationalism of a young man and they could go together to make life meaningful and purposeful. Chinmaya Mission taught this Sadhu in his youth to stand erect with raised read full of rationalistic ideals and at the same time bow his read in reverence to the glowing wisdom and scientific genius of the rishis of the ancient Bharatavarsha. He learnt from the Master that religion was not a blind alley leading to superstition and ignorance, but a dynamic way of life to make mankind seek the goal of its existence.
After the college days of this sadhu, our family shifted to Tamilnadu and we settled down at Trichy. This sadhu took to a journalistic career for some time and then joined Government service as an auditor. But life with accounts and audit all the time proved to be too boring, monotonous and uninspiring, and this sadhu was often getting frustrated. It was at such a time that the call came from the great Master. At the Sandeepani Sadhanalaya of Swami Chinmayananda, on the auspicious day of Krishnashtami in 1964, great spiritual luminaries including Swamiji, Guruji Golwalkar whose life of sacrifice and dedication to the Motherland has been a source of inspiration to millions of youth in our country, and some other saints met together and founded the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Responding to the call of my Master, Swami Chinmayananda, this sadhu threw away his government job and came out as a full-time worker of the Parishad.
Viswamakshilamuddhwartumami nirmita vayam
Bhaaratam samuddhwartumami preshita vayam!
“We have been created by the God for lifting up the whole world; we have been sent here to raise this glorious land of Bharatvarsha!” – these lines became a constant refrain on the onward march of this sadhu.
Soon this sadhu became the Secretary, not only of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, but also of Chinmaya Mission in Trichy. Almost every month he used to get a letter from his Master whever He was. Some of the letters showered praise and gave encouragement, some others warned him not to be extrovert. But the Swami was a very kind and generous guardian to this young man who had left his hearth and home to work for the Hindu cause. The aged and orthodox father was worried about the future of his son and he called on the Master when the latter had come to Srirangam for a grand Geeta Gnana Yagna organized under the Secretary-ship of this young disciple. The Swami consoled the father and assured him that his son was on the right path.
Six years after leaving Kerala, this sadhu had the opportunity to visit again his place of birth when the kind Swami nominated him to the Advisory Council of Central Chinmaya Mission Trust and invited him to attend a meeting at Tripunithura Palace, Cochin. This visit was memorable, for this sadhu had the rare opportunity to accompany the Swamy to Kalady, the birth-place of Adi Shankaracharya. Sitting at the feet of the great Master surrounded by other devotees, this humble sadhu’s mind flew into the distant past and he imagined the scene of the Great Preceptor of Advaita surrounded by disciples like Padmapada, Sureshwara, Totaka and Hastamalaka. What a soul-elevating experience we had on that day!
The Master was concerned not merely with the spiritual well-being of the world. He was equally concerned about the material needs and comforts. When he came to know that this sadhu was being looked after by a few devoteed colleagues in the R.S.S. ever since he left his hearth and home to work for the Hindu cause, the Master immediately ordered that the Sandeepany Sadhanalaya would send every month a cheque for this sadhu’s maintenance and he should not depend on any individual for his needs. Not knowing what was in the mind of the Master, this sadhu asked him what work he should do for the Master. The Swamy gave a very hot and emphatic reply: “Go and stand in the hot sun. I am not worried what work you would do or do not. I want to see that your basic needs are met. That’s all. You yourself decide your work.” Such was the confidence of the Master in his disciple. The cheques used to come very promptly by the first of every month.
But, then, things took a sudden turn. There started a nationwide agitation to ban cow slaughter. Swamiji also threw his whole-hearted support to the noble cause. Sant Prabhudutt Brahmachari visited Srirangam and a rousing reception was given to him. Soon this sadhu and some other workers dedicated to this cause landed themselves in the police lock up. And then the elections came and this sadhu found himself to be a candidate of the then Bharatiya Jan Sangh from Trichy constituency to the Tamilnadu Legislative Assembly. The entry into the election arena was not for winning position, but to introduce a staunch nationalist party in Tamilnadu politics and also to initiate a process to create a Hindu vote bank, a cause which was very dear to the Swami. Soon after the elections, this sadhu quit politics and was in Delhi, Patna and later in Nagpur, working again for the Hindu cause. It was at this time that the proximity of Guruji Golwalkar and the saintly leader’s fatherly affection, his exemplary life of self-sacrifice and total dedication to the service of the Motherland, created a deep and tremendous impact on the mind of this sadhu. However, the illness of his aged father brought this sadhu back to Tamilnadu, and after the departure of the father from this mortal world, this sadhu also settled down in grihasta life. The Master showered his unstinted grace and blessings on the family which dedicated itself to the cause of the Motherland.
Swami Vivekananda Medical Mission was founded and it started its activities in Tamilnadu. This sadhu plunged into the work heart and soul. Soon this organization merged in Vishwa Hindu Parishad. This humble worker and Smt. Bharathi Rangarajan were invited by the Promethean Karma Yogi who created men out of dust, Sri Eknath Ranade, the founder of Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Vivekananda Kendra, to join in blessings of the Swami and he replied: “Go ahead. Wherever you are, remember always that you are doing only my work.” And in 1976-77, the developments that took place due to the National Emergency, forced us to leave the Kendra. By then, Sister Nivedita Academy was founded by this sadhu to uphold the ideals of Aggressive Hinduism propounded by the illustrious, revolutionary disciple of Swami Vivekananda, and also to spread the Hindu thought and culture in India and abroad. And in order to equip himself for this new and onerous task, this sadhu wanted to enter into the portals of a college, as a day scholar, to pursue his post-graduate studies in philosophy. Swami Chinmayananda came to know of the intentions of this sadhu and spontaneously offered his financial support for the effort. The help was continued when this sadhu took up research work.
Then came a sudden turn in this sadhu’s life. A serious infection in his lungs caused anxiety in the minds of his collegues and they frantically arranged for his treatment. But this sadhu resigned himself to the Grace and Mercy of the Divine Mother Mayee of Kanyakumari who had entered his life during one of his visits to Kanyakumari for the Kendra’s work. Swami Chinmayananda had come then to Madras and this sadhu met him. He had heard about this sadhu’s illness and his refusal to undergo treatment. He asked this sadhu the reason. For a minute, this sadhu was silent and with a fearful heart he told the Swami: “Maharaj, by your grace I will be alright.” The Swami burst out in anger: “My grace is not for fools. Go to the doctor and take treatment.” Then, with some hesitation this sadhu revealed the real reason. “Oh! That old lady of Kanyakumari who eats raw fish is taking care of you now! OK!” The matter ended there.
With the grace and blessings of the Mother, not only this sadhu regained perfect health, but also launched soon a new quarterly, TATTVA DARSANA, as the official organ of Sister Nivedita Academy. He sought the blessings of the Master. Swami Chinmayananda promptly gave a message in which he said: “Sri V. Rangarajan is fully capable of delivering the goods through the journal, TATTVA DARSANA, which is the urgent need of the times. It is my firm understanding that he has the spiritual preparation, in both study and practice, and by a conspiracy of destiny, he had a gruesome total training in all areas of journalism. When such a well-equipped person, having the necessary intense consciousness of our culture, starts a journal, it cannot but assert the goal. Even though the market is saturated with trash, I am confident that the TATTVA DARSANA will have all success, and I am looking forward to seeing its glorious trail of service to the Hindu Nation.”
With the inaugural issue of TATTVA DARSANA, this sadhu called on the great Mahatma of Arunachaleswara, Paramapoojya Yogi Ramsuratkumar, about whom he came to know through Mayi. The boundless love and blessings of the Divine Beggar of Tiruvannamalai subdued the mind of this sadhu and destroyed the logical inquisitiveness in spiritual matters and made him surrender blindly his heart at the feet of the Godchild of Tiruvannamalai. The loving grace of the Godchil and that of Mother Mayi and the blessings of his siksha guru enabled this sadhu to take to wings and fly to distant lands – to South Africa, Mauritius and Reunion – carrying the spiritual message of Mother India to Her children abroad, in 1985-86. On his return, soon after this sadhu landed in India, he received a congratulatory letter from his sikshaguru, Swami Chinmayananda:
Hari Om! Hari Om! Hari Om!
I had many glowing tributes paid to you received by me in many letters from Reunion and Mauritius. I had a very clear picture of what you are accomplishing.
We need such champions of Hinduism, who scream into the ears of the sleeping Hindus, reviving and revitalizing them, in the hearty consciousness of their proud past. This alone can make them live dynamically and carve out of themselves a brilliant future which they so eminently deserve.
With Prem and Om,
Thy own self,
Yes, this humble instrument moulded by Swami Chinmayananda, perfected by Guruji Golwalkar and given finishing touches by Sri Eknath Ranade was at least placed at the service of my Deeksha Guru, Paramapoojya Yogi Ramsuratkumar, the Great Jadabharata of Modern India. Guess who would have been the happiest to see this hardcore, rationalist young man of the nineteen fifties turning into a humble sadhu spreading the Divine Name of Rama with all devotion and faith and under the benign guidance of a Godmad divine beggar!
Swami Chinmayananda was not one who would tolerate any nonsense in the name of religion and spirituality. At a time when the so-called Swamis and Godmen, umpteen in number inside the country and abroad, indulge in cheap magic and miracle performances, soothsaying and astro-palmistry, predicting the future of politicians, businessmen, filmstars and bureaucrats of all sorts and invoking the gods to serve the sensual and materialistic people, and thereby seeking publicity blitzkriegs to amass quick fortunes and build up air-conditioned ashrams, here was a great Himalayas of Spiritual Wisdom, who rose up in the spiritual horizon of India as a blazing sun and set on flames heaps of ignorance and superstition that had surrounded the Bharatiya society, and illuminated the sky with the dazzling spiritual light of the glorious Bharatavarsha of the Vedic seers and Vedanta Acharyas! Following the footsteps of his illustrious predecessors, Swami Vivekananda and Swami Rama Tirtha, this Stormy Petral of Spiritual India, Swami Chinmayananda, trotted the globe and brought the entire world under his spell. The East and the West joined hands to sit at his feet and learn the meaning and purpose of human life. His practical and scientific interpretation of the Hindu scriptures and his awe-inspiring orations mercilessly attacking the stupid intellectual pride and selfish materialistic pursuits of the so-called educated elite, attracted the attention of men and women of all tastes and temperaments. And he was a Pied Piper of Bharatavarsha who attracted in thousands, even the youth in jeans dancing in the ball rooms of post star hotels to follow him into the halls of Vedanta and realize the hollowness of their aristoling, man-making and nation-building values of life propounded by the sages and saints of India. His Vedantic appeal through the discourses on the Gita, the Upanishads and the prakarana granthas had its irresistible impact on the most rationalistic brains, while his expositions on the Narada Bhakti Sutra, Bhajagovindam, etc. drove even an intellectual to the portals of Bhakti sadhana.
This sadhu’s heart was filled with rapture when he heard of a recent remark of my Deeksha Guru, Poojyapada Yogi Ramsuratkumar. When a devotee was referring to the care and concern that Swami Chinmayananda bestowed on this sadhu in his early period of spiritual sadhana and service to the cause of the country and our religion, Yogi Ramsuratkumar remarked: “We must thank Swami Chinmayananda!”
The more this sadhu thinks of his siksha guru, Swami Chinmayananda, the intense is the feeling that He was always very close to this sadhu. However, the truth is that the Swami was like an eagle flying carefree high up in the sky, but at the same time having its eye on one of its young ones somewhere in a small nest on the top of a tree, down below in a dense forest on the earth. He belonged to the whole world, yet He made everyone feel that He was near to him or her. Here was a Chinmayananda! When will come another one! Nay, He is, He is ever with us, Eternally and Immortally!
Chinmayananda guru jayati shikshaagururme
Deekshaguruscha Bhagavan Yogi Ramsuratkumarah!
“Victory to my shikshaguru, Chinmayananda and also to my Deeksha guru, Yogi Ramsuratkumar!”