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A Messenger of Peace and Wisdom
A Souvenir released on Swami Krishnananda's 75th Birthday


Humility – The Hallmark of True Wisdom

by Swami Madhavananda

Prostrations to Sri Satguru, who is Consciousness, eternal and peaceful. My salutations, again and again, to Lord Sri Krishna, the son of Vasudeva, the delighter of Devaki and Yasoda, the darling of Nandagopa. My prostrations to Radhapati, the source of supreme bliss, whose grace makes the dumb eloquent and the cripple cross mountains.

In Sri Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj, we have a saint of the old Rishi type; and his life, it may be said, is a commentary on the high ideals of service, love and goodness. His practical life holds aloft a blazing torch of righteous living to aspirants so as to dispel the darkness in the path. It is beholden on all aspirants in particular, and his admirers and well-wishers in general, to keep in mind the facts, the principles and the lessons indicated by the Swamiji's life and utterances with a sense of gratitude for the invaluable benefits conferred by them. On this holy and auspicious occasion, let all aspirants, as far as possibly can, exert themselves to study and assimilate his life and teachings and make them the working principle of their daily life.

It is a truism that a Jnani alone, of all men, knows God as He is – the perfect Infinite Spirit, who is like the sun after darkness, than whom nothing is greater, nothing more subtle, and nothing older. It was divine dispensation and the blessing of the all-merciful Lord that our beloved Sri Swami Krishnanandaji relinquished the mundane life at a very young age and took to a life of renunciation; influenced by the great saint, our blessed Gurudev, settled down at Rishikesh and practised austerities and took to intense studies, as a result of which Swamiji not only qualified himself for the purpose of ministering to the souls of men, but also bloomed into a great Vedantin, Yogi and saint. To my observation, Sri Krishnanandaji is a qualified Vedantin and displays in his life the simplicity and humility of a man endowed with true spiritual knowledge. Any new aspect of knowledge, spiritual or secular, which he is not conversant with, though it may be very ordinary, is all wonder to him; and childlike he wants to know more and more about it. This is admirable indeed.

I have used the word 'wonder' in the last sentence and it means to ponder, to question, to be aware of ignorance, to be surprised, to marvel, to be curious. When we are filled with wonder, we necessarily open our minds and become willing to listen. The child is full of wonder and awe, because it is not yet become too sophisticated to see the beauty, the good, in the smallest, most commonplace things. As the years pass, we grow our know-it-allness and become progressively blind to what is real and good in our world. We often fail to realise the purity and the good that is in all things. Is not the child, looking for the good, healthier in mind and body than the adult who looks at the unfamiliar with fear or distrust? The child looks at life through the mind-glass with pristine purity and sees clearly, not bringing imperfection into what it views. But later in life, we are apt to look through the mind-glass darkly. It is only when we are in the wondering process that we begin to really understand the majesty, orderliness, and divine origin of all that exists. How can one possibly look beyond what is before his eyes and ears without a sense of wonder?

The great spiritual leaders have always said that humility is the surest sign of true understanding. What is meant by humility or meekness? Are we not talking about humility when speaking of a sense of wonder? Can any man who stands in wonder of anything be other than humble! The truly humble man recognises his own uniqueness, but he also recognises that he has a way to go. Through his sense of wonder he is aware that there are still newer vistas of knowledge, still greater heights to climb. The meekness, too, is not being meek to the things of the earth, not grovelling before the idols of the world. On the contrary, the meek man is meek in his wonderment of the glorious knowledge that must be behind outer appearances. He is full of wonder, knowing that much truth remains invisible to his sensory system. Humility and meekness both enable us to wonder, to ponder, to be in awe.

Perhaps our first step towards wisdom, towards God-consciousness is getting rid of our know-it-allness and adopting an attitude of true humility. We should begin to stand in awe, to wonder at the infinite good, orderliness and unity that exist in the universe. We shall never take the first step if we close our minds and hearts to the visible in the invisible, says a thinker. Humbly we must look with eyes that see, and ears that hear, rather than with the superior attitude of "I know all that." It is a sign of self-destroying egotism never to be impressed, never to be moved to wonder by anything or anyone. It is a sign of wisdom to question, to wonder. We learn only through the process of wondering. He is foolish who believes that he must always act in a sophisticated manner as if he is in possession of all knowledge; the wise man recognises that he knows not. God gave us three essential abilities to develop the total consciousness: to reason, to know that we know, and to know that we know not. The man who hopes to raise his consciousness should develop his reasoning power, and ability to sort and analyse what he knows, and should know that he still has much to learn. The humble man knows this and comes into a higher consciousness. Why do we lose our sense of wonder and humility? Because of the fear of appearing naive. If one has real faith in God-force, one should express all the more clearly one's sense of wonder. If we approach anything in life with contempt due to familiarity and assumption of know-it-allness, we are kept in ignorance. We have to be humble to be creative or to rise to a higher level of consciousness. The person who is contemptuous dwells in the lowest level of his consciousness, and he suffers much, as all men suffer who leave their humility buried in the mud of ignorance in which they are wallowing. In what manner do we begin to reactivate this child-like, but very mature and wise sense of wonder? The strength to sustain a sense of wonder with humility against the great pull of habit does not come easily; it has to be willed by conscious action over and over again. It takes very real effort and patience, but it is most rewarding and it will spark our creativity, and new horizons will be opened to us – a great new awareness and a higher consciousness.

On the sacred and auspicious occasion of Swamiji's Platinum Jubilee, as his true admirers, let us emulate his life principle and humble ourselves before God and He will lift us up in due time. My humble suggestion to one and all is: Dedicate yourselves afresh to his teachings, to his wise counsels. Give your thought to his sublime message – as revealed through his ideal life – of peace, service, goodwill, love towards all beings, purification and refinement; and cultivation of all that is positive and desirable and effacement of all that is crude, coarse and impure in thought, word and deed. May Swamiji's sublime, ideal and dedicated life be prolonged for a long time to come so that he may continue to guide aspirants and be a source of inspiration to one and all. Hari Om Tat Sat.