ARTICLES ABOUT SWAMI KRISHNANANDA
My Guru: Compassion Incarnate
by Dr. Bharat Chandra Nath
"Krishnanandaji is a wonder to me! Who knows how many Sankaracharyas have gone into our young Swami? He is our Dakshinamurthy", said Swami Sivananda in admiration of his beloved, juvenile disciple Swami Krishnananda. When Swamiji was a wonder to his own Guru, it is very difficult, nay, impossible, for worldlings like us to dilate properly even upon a single aspect of Swamiji's outer versatile personality, not to speak of his fathomless inner identity, wherein a saint of his stature hides himself. Quite aware of my incompetence, I yet cannot help sharing a few of my experiences of Guru-kripa with those who have a genuine love for India's spiritual culture and staunch faith in Guru's invisible grace.
When I was a B.A. (Final Year) student of Dhenkanal College in 1973, I developed a sort of emotional dispassion for worldly life and a keen disgust for Economics, the subject I was then studying. Leaving my studies, I escaped secretly from home to join Sivananda Ashram, about the grandeur of which I had heard and read before. Providentially, I could have the Darshan of Sri Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj on 1st September, '73. At the first sight Swamiji Maharaj, with his soothing words of love, instilled a spirit of hope into my heart as I was in a dejected, melancholy mood at that time. I expressed my desire for some kind of service (Seva) in the Ashram as I intended to stay for a long time, Swamiji, two days later, sent for me, and to my joy and surprise, straight away asked me to work in the Publication League, in which I had a special inclination to serve, although I had not let out my choice before. I gladly joined the department. But after a few days my determination to remain in the Ashram collapsed for personal, psychological reasons. On 9th September, I became completely restless and decided to return home. I approached Swamiji at an unusual hour. He could very well know my mind. "Are you remembering the members of your family?," he questioned. "Yes, Swamiji", was my helpless answer. He allowed me to leave and advised me to meet him the next morning for initiation. On 10th September (Monday), at about 8 a.m., I appeared before Swamiji. Then there was none else in his Kutir. The atmosphere was calm, serene and grave. Swamiji came out of his room with a rosary in his hand, and without any pre-initiation query, straightaway initiated me into the Mantra I was longing for! Then he gave me the necessary instructions for Japa and a copy of "Practical Lessons in Yoga" with his autograph. Swamiji's initiation gradually brought about a unique change in my life. It not only pacified the then turbulent tides of my inner life, but it sowed as well the spiritual seed to grow in future. Some wonder how Swami Krishnanandaji, who would at times avoid, for spiritual reasons, initiating new suppliants, did so willingly in my case without my prayer. I do attribute my initiation only to his supreme grace.
In 1976 when I was an M.A., (Previous) student of Banaras Hindu University, I suffered from a physical ailment accompanied with mental tension, from which I could not recover in spite of various medical treatments. Finally I went to Rishikesh from Varanasi in the 3rd week of November, '76. Coming to know about the details of my problem, Gurudev Krishnanandaji recommended me to do one round of Japa of a Samputa Mantra from the Devi Mahatmya, daily before retiring to bed. I followed his advice. The regular Japa of the Mantra gradually cured my trouble and brought me complete relief within a very short period. I am convinced that a saint of Swamiji's intuitive knowledge can be a better physician to treat certain diseases, his diagnosis going beyond the limitations of medical sciences. Later in '83 when I asked Swamiji whether I should still do the Japa, he categorically emphasised the continuation of the prophylactic Sadhana till the end of my life. But for his sympathetic consideration for my health, God knows what would have happened to me afterwards.
In October '89, during the Puja vacation, I, accompanied by my wife, visited the Ashram. It was her first chance to see Gurudev face to face. She was pining for initiation. Gurudev was kind enough to initiate her on the holy Ekadasi Day. Besides, we had another mundane purpose of seeking Guru's blessings for the birth of a son, we being then the parents of two daughters only. I was feeling shy to appeal to a spiritual luminary for a silly, transient gain; nevertheless I could not suppress my mind. I implored, "Gurudev, we seek your blessings for a son." To this supplication His Holiness's immediate, emphatic response was, "I don't bless like this. Don't ask God for a son. If you do, you are directing Him to do this and that. Whatever God gives is for your good and you have to accept everything as such. Who knows God may come to your family in the form of a daughter?" He was then sitting in the Samadhi Hall, surrounded by a big gathering of devotees and visitors. I buried my long-cherished, temporal desire then and there. His last sentence, "Who knows.....daughter?" indicative of the future birth of a daughter, came true. Soon after our return from Rishikesh, my wife carried. And lo! the next year on an auspicious Thursday, we were blessed with a third daughter. Gurudev could foresee who was going to be born as our third child. We resigned ourselves to the Divine Will, drawing peace and solace from his words, pregnant with lifesaving meaning.
During my past visits to the Sivananda Ashram, I have always enjoyed Gurudev's spontaneous love and sympathy. Whenever I have entreated His Holiness, he has promptly clarified my doubts, be they transcendental or temporal. He is a Sanskritist par excellence. In September, '91 I put forth some doubts. He opened my eyes by removing my prejudices against some grammatical lapses in a few Stotras. It was he who could enlighten me with his spiritual justification for such linguistic errors. As a practical synthetic Yogi, he has been guiding me in the path of devotion.
Our spatial distance notwithstanding, I have been receiving his invisible merciful help and guidance day in and day out. During trials and tribulations, the moment I have fervently surrendered myself to my Guru's feet, I have realised his immediate, miraculous protection. Such experiences are too many to find place here. When I introspect, I trace so many vices in myself that I simply marvel at his ahetuki kripa, i.e., incomprehensible grace.
Gurudev is known the world over as a Vedanta Philosopher and a prolific writer. His literature on Yoga and Vedanta is nothing but the scholarly manifestation of his divine grace on humanity for all times to come. We are blessed and fortunate that we are his disciples. To me he is a Daya Sagar, a Karuna Yogi. The celebration of the auspicious 75th Birthday Anniversary (Amrita Mahotsava) of Gurudev, His Holiness Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj, is an ineffable joy to all of us. Let me conclude with these words:
present incarnation doth attain Summers Seventy-Five;
Into thy reality, O Ageless Effulgence, Who can dive?
a joyous, momentous Friday;
May we share divine nectar and be happy and gay,
Thy Lotus Feet, O Gurudev, be our eternal shelter;
A thousand and one prostrations unto thee, O Protector!