A Souvenir released on Swami Krishnananda's 75th Birthday
At that time, I was a youth of twenty-four. I was working as a lecturer in physics in an undergraduate college. To live was a great struggle for me, for I was suffering from chronic colitis for years together. I had a love affair with a lady who refused me all on a sudden and married someone else. Repeated failure to change my state of affairs brought me to the verge of utter despair. I was thinking of giving up my life, as joy seemed to have vanished from my mind altogether.
However, within the deep core of my heart, I had a peculiar feeling that life was a tremendous mystery and before one left this earthly existence, one should try to unravel this mystery. "Should I give up my life without the experience of this unravelling?" – Day and night, this question perturbed me. Fortunately, at that critical period, I came across a book. Its name was "Autobiography of a Yogi." Its author was Paramahamsa Yogananda. I had read many spiritual books before, but those were far different from this particular book. The entire writing was a piece of masterly art, a real romance. Seven consecutive days passed and I was almost absorbed in the book. In it was a description of the direct, intuitive, spiritual experiences of a Yogi, who dedicated his life to know the supreme cause behind the panorama of life. Slowly the idea crept into my mind: "Life is still worth living; the mystery of life is the source of all inspiration for living." I was very interested to delve deep into this ocean of life, vibrating in every nook and corner of the great universe. But, how to do it? Who was to help me? And above all, where was such a person who had already fathomed this great depth? Suddenly the answer came. One rainy afternoon, I was browsing at a book-stall in a railway station. One of the books drew my attention. It was "Yoga Asanas" by Swami Sivananda. Its language was very lucid and its exposition was extremely clear. I purchased the book then and there and read it. Within a few days, I wrote a letter to Swami Chidananda, the President of the Divine Life Society from where the book was published.
Swamiji was absent in the Ashram then, but a reply came from his personal secretary, who invited me to come over to the Ashram and meet the senior Swamis for the answers to all my questions. Accordingly, I reached Riskikesh. The calm and quiet environment of the Ashram made my whirling mind peaceful and joy bubbled up from a source deep within, after a long time. There were many Swamis who attracted my notice by their appearance, but whom to approach for my answers?
One morning I was talking with the man in the reception office, who advised me to attend Swami Krishnanandaji's morning lecture. He then escorted me to Swamiji's Kutir – "Gurukripa."
At first sight, I was not much impressed by Swamiji's appearance. He had no long beard, his eyes were not closed in meditative mood, nor was he very grave. He looked a man of ordinary stature and he frequently cut jokes with the other Swamis who had assembled to listen to his discourse. I sat in one corner. The lecture was yet to start.
But, as the lecture started after a few minutes, the whole atmosphere vibrated with a different spirit. Words from his lips came out like a flowing fountain and I drank those words to my heart's greatest content. Ah, it was a real treat for me! Never did I feel such happiness just by listening to a lecture. Today, I cannot recollect the topic of that day's oration, but it was something concerning human happiness. Everything around was tranquil, and Swamiji's words, like the rays of the sun, illumined my mind and lifted it to a plane of consciousness where knowledge alone was the object to be pursued. I forgot my bodily worries. Joy filled my mind. When the lecture ended, it seemed as if we woke up from a happy dream.
I approached Swamiji when the room was a bit less crowded, bowed down to him and told him that I wanted to learn the art of meditation. He gave an affectionate laugh. By that time he was aware that I was a lecturer in physics. He asked, "How many years did you take to understand the principles of physics?." "Approximately nine years" I replied. "It may be more than that to learn meditation, my dear sir!" he smilingly remarked. I stayed with him for more than twenty minutes. When I was ready to take leave. I found him looking intently at me with a peculiar gaze and mutter certain prayers, all of which I could not understand.
It was then the month of June. I came back to Calcutta, my place of work, within a few days, but could not forget that smiling face and those sparkling words. Doubts about the existence of God tormented me day in and day out, in my leisure and during activities. I wrote a letter again, this time to the newly-acquainted personality. The reply came within a fortnight. It was a long letter, illumining my mind about my various queries. I quote below a few extracts from this writing, which pulled me tremendously towards Swami Krishnanandaji:
"As regards your query regarding the existence of God, etc., these doubts arise on account of the inability to reconcile the various doctrines of philosophic thought with the central issue of any philosophic problem in an organic completeness."
"Modern theories of evolution and discoveries of physics, chemistry and biology are merely tentative conclusions based on empirical observation and they cannot be taken for the whole of truth, since every thing that is empirical has to be founded upon something that is noumenal, a fact which no one can gainsay.
"An insight into the nature of the ultimate reality may require a preparation in the form of extensive study and deep research under a competent guide."
These remarks vibrated within my mind persistently. In October 1976, on my way back from Badrinath, I once again dropped at the Ashram. This time I stayed for six days. I met Swamiji every morning. One day he told me: "You have to practise deep meditation in order to know about God. I shall tell you certain techniques." But, after this, he was utterly silent. Slowly, my leisure days came to an end. I had to come back again with out any guidance.
Two months later came the Christmas Eve. I was feeling restless continually. "Would he not guide me ultimately?" "When shall I receive the directions?" – Questions of this sort agitated me every day. All on a sudden, due to some tremendous urge. I purchased a ticket for Haridwar and left Calcutta. I still remember that wintry December morning when I reached Haridwar in the early hours. All was dark around, everything was chilly, and the chill made me shiver up to my bones. The atmosphere was heavy with fog, and when my bus started its movement, my whole mind was also full of mist. I could not understand properly whether I was going to tread the right path. Swami Krishnanandaji was in his Kutir, looking through certain papers. When I arrived, he looked up and stared for a few seconds at me. "So you have come" – he smiled, "Well, go and take bath, you are tired. I shall call you when necessary." He turned his attention once again to his files.
A few days later, one morning at eight o'clock, I was summoned. The room was empty. Swamiji started talking about concentration and meditation. At that time, I was trying to concentrate my mind with the help of certain Hatha-yogic methods. He told me: "Those are not for you. You should practise Japa. That is the easiest method of concentration." Then he uttered two Mantras. "Choose between the two" he added. I chose one. "Okay" he said, "that is your Mantra then. Practise Japa with it. It will lead you to meditation." I was also instructed by him about the technique of meditation. And all this took only fifteen to twenty minutes. Surprisingly enough, it took two more years for me to understand that this was my initiation (an event completely free from rituals) and that he was my sole spiritual guide.
Two days later, he called me again, this time, it was afternoon. Spontaneously he explained to me the techniques of Raja Yoga and how to move in this path of spirituality, amidst a modern, sophisticated city life. At one moment I asked him, "Is meditation always good for a human being? I see that it produces headache, etc., in my case." Smilingly he replied, "Meditation, conducted rightly and under a proper guide, can never have any ill effect." Then, with a mischievous look and with eyes twinkling with joke, he added, "And I don't think I am a wrong doctor for your spiritual ailments, inasmuch as I have treated thousands of patients successfully."
Days and months rolled by. I was back home and working, but my whole mind was all intent to get in touch with this person of immense wisdom. Yet, somehow I was also attracted towards Paramahamsa Yogananda's writings and lessons. I continued practising the Yogoda lessons (certain spiritual techniques) and also the meditation methods prescribed by Swamiji Maharaj. I was a bit perplexed at that time. Who was my real Guru? I could not judge. The superb writings of Paramahamsa Yogananda appealed to me tremendously. I was overwhelmed with the wisdom of this man whom I had no chance to meet physically.
Since 1977, I started visiting the Ashram twice a year – in summer and in the autumnal vacation. Each time I put the same question to Swamiji: "Who is my Guru?." He never replied clearly, but only talked this and that. At last, one morning in 1977, when I asked him, "Did you initiate me, Swamiji? There was no ritual at all when you gave me the Mantra." He gave a tender look and said, "Well, something was done and that was the ritual for you." The words rang with such a power that they flashed like a lightning, and within a second, I realised who was my true Guru.
Our relationship became sweeter after this event. Several times he said, "Tushar Kumar, why don't you marry?." "Marriage? Isn't it the burial of Sadhana?" I wondered.
"No, No" he explained, "sometimes, marriage may help your spiritual evolution. Marry an untutored girl; she would help you." I had every intention to marry a postgraduate girl, if at all I decided to be wedded. I therefore strongly objected to this proposal. "Impossible" I exclaimed, "I can't marry a girl without post-graduation. And why? I won't marry at all."
My Guru, a man of a different realm, never argued. "Okay, okay, we would see to it later. Now carry on your Sadhana." And then he changed over to a different topic. He touched all the facets of my life in his instructions and discussed almost everything, including my health, my academic life, my family affairs, over and above my spiritual progress. As I advanced slowly, his instructions became rarer, and when we met, most of the time he talked about the multifarious varieties of the life spiritual. I continued my Sadhana, but felt very lonely at heart. No one was there to share my inner feelings of joy and sorrow. Moreover, I stumbled many times in attempting to control my biological urge. In 1977, I told him, "Swamiji, I am feeling that I should marry... Should I marry? What do you suggest?." "Of course, you should marry. It is essential for you," he remarked gravely, and then smiled: "Didn't I tell this to you long ago?." I was struck dumb with awe. So, this man foresaw whatever was going to happen in my future.
As I slowly evolved, I found to my utter surprise that all his predictions about my life came true to the word. Whatever he spoke was truth for me. I started obeying all his directions without the least hesitation. A conviction came in my mind in the light of which I understood that this divine personality had already become the director of my hitherto commonplace life. I also realised, by his grace, that to find God was the summum bonum of human existence.
The profundity of his wisdom is incomparable. His knowledge on any subject whatsoever, besides Yoga and Vedanta, is something to be really admired. When he speaks on physics even (which fortunately is my subject), it seems that he understands physics far better than I do. His writings carry a depth of thought which reflects his keen intellect and yet have a peculiar grace and charm. But all this apart, his love for everybody, however insignificant he may be, is beyond ordinary conception. Outwardly grave and self-possessed, when this sage of the modern era keeps quiet, it seems that there is an insurmountable barrier surrounding him. As one comes nearer to him, however, it seems that he is but a fountain from which there is a continuous emanation of rays of love, soothing every soul that approaches. When I read, in various spiritual books about the qualities that God possesses, and when I remain in close proximity of my divine Guru, I feel that God is manifesting his unique character through him.
I have heard that he is a man of great spiritual attainments. But, who am I to judge his level? Can an insect fathom the ocean?
I am blessed to have his love, for no one else in this earthly plane has loved me so much, no one else has shown so much concern for me. An ordinary human being, unless he becomes a God-man, is perhaps incapable of such a selfless love. In the words of a great saint of modern times, "Once we experience the love divine that flows through us from God, it gives a glow to life that nothing else on earth – no powers, no glories, no amount of sense-satisfaction – can give us."