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Essays on the Upanishads and Other Essays
A Souvenir released on Swami Krishnananda's 33rd Birthday


by Sri Swami Chidananda

Of souls like Swami Krishnanandaji all cannot give estimations and opinions. It is said that one of the rarest of qualities in this world is understanding. No man can understand another man. As Swamiji has said, even after fifty years of living together, the wife and husband do not understand each other. When man cannot understand himself, how can he understand another ? When we come to exceptional human beings, all the more is this difficult. Still more so, when is the case of a person in the spiritual line. To understand spiritual people of high spiritual eminence is a thing which even the gods dare not easily easy to do.

Whatever we may think, the inner worth of a saint only one more spiritual than him—a Brahmanishta or Siddha Mahapusha—will be able to judge and understand saint of the eminence of Swami Krishnanandaji. We will be able to appreciate some of his human qualities. We may say that he expounds Vedanta wonderfully; that is not a very great compliment to a soul who has dived into the very depth of Vedantic knowledge and also has to his credit inner experience of the Vedantic truths. Even so, we may say: he does not waste his time, he leads a very regulated life—but all this is like trying to say that the sun shines, that it rises punctually every day in the east. You bypass what the splendour is, and say only what you can see.

People of Swami Krishnananda's stature and eminence have to be viewed in a different light altogether. To understand the secret of their great spiritual stature is a thing which we can try only by a devout and humble emulation or imitation of their lives. We must observe them. We must sit at their feet. We must try to learn. We must be filled with a spirit of discipleship. Then alone we will be able to understand what they really are. Or else, we will admire, but we will not be able to thoroughly understand what they are.

Specially so is the case with persons with whom we are constantly living. Ati Parichayaadavajna Santata Gamanat Anadaro Bhavati; Mala Bhilla Parandhri Chandana Taru Kashtamindini Kurute. By constant association, you lose the real worth of a being. A sort of carelessness develops in you. Here we have Swami Krishnanandaji day in and day out; so naturally we will not know the full worth of this saint. It is only people who don't live with him, who visit him once in a while and hear something from him which goes right into their hearts and at once flashes there the light of illumination, of Atam-Vichara—they will treasure the light that he has been able to kindle in their hearts. They know what he really is. They will never forget it. They prize this experience of contact with him and enshrine it in their hearts as a beacon light. We will not be able to get that fresh and startling experience of what such great persons really are, unless we put ourselves in the position of those people who come afar, aspiring, thirsting for a knowledge of the Truth; then we will know what he means and stands for in this Kali Yuga, in this age of darkness. That is the only way of understanding such beings.

One thing I can try to do today is to put before you some of the things which I have learned from him about the ideal pattern of a spiritual man and a Sanyasin. The first is that Swami Krishnanandaji is an unusual being—Manushyaanaam Sahasreshu Kaschit Yatati Siddhaye: Yatataamapi Siddhannaam Kaschinmaant Vetti Tatwatah.

He is one of those who belong to the latter category, the rare few who, having striven attain Him and know Him in essence, and who come in order to lead men towards Self-Knowledge. As this only we must view our Vedanta Acharya and Sanyasa Acharya.

His life I have found is based upon absolute Vairagya. His renunciation and spiritual life is one that is based upon Poorna Vairagya. It is the best foundation for spiritual life; without it, spiritual life is only a tottering structure. The exceptional feature of the Vairagya of Krishnanandaji is that it is Viveka-Vichara-Janita Vairagya. It is Vairagya that slowly grew and beautifully developed within his consciousness through the ceaseless pondering the facts of life and bringing to bear upon these phenomena of life of a very penetrating and a very highly discriminating mind. It is this discrimination and constant enquiry that has brought out his Vairagya. Upon this Vairagya he has based his spiritual life; thus it stands upon the surest of bases, upon a most permanent and unshakable basis.

Vairagya is not an easy thing. Camels eat prickly-pear and it injures their mouth. Yet, they go on eating prickly-pear again and again. People may suffer again and again; yet they cling to worldly life. By merely coming to know of the harmful and painful nature of sense-objects, by Vivcka alone, Swami Krishnanandaji has got himself established in Para Vairagya.

If you understand this point, it will explain a lot of other things which we see and marvel about his life: haw he is able to live like this and view things like this, to have such an attitude to all that happens to him in his life. There is nothing that he wants in this universe. He does not care for these names and forms. He has acquired that sense of Pari-poornata which springs from the constant consciousness that “I am Nitya, Shuddha, Buddha, Satchidananda Atma.” As his Viveka and Vichara have given him a very correct lead in the spiritual life, therefore, he has not been foolish like the vast majority of aspirants: as Gurudev is never tired of reiterating again and again, “a little bit of reading of Sanskrit, Panchadasi, and two or three Upanishads, at once these aspirants want to jump to Nirvikalpa Samadhi, and feel that they are ready to do Lokasa-mgraha.” That is the pattern of self-deluded aspirants, who read the scriptures, understanding the language-meaning of it but do not grasp the spirit of the teaching which is the most important thing. It is the spirit of the teaching of the Guru that is most essential. This proper approach to the spiritual life, you must have.

If you want to know about Parabrahman: Tad-viddhi Pranipatena Pariprasnena Sevaya. Eradication of egoism, Seva—all these mean a complete change of your entire old unregenerate, self-arrogating nature. Then alone have you to approach the Guru. It is only the man endowed with discrimination who understands these things: which is the cart, which is the horse and which to put before which. Then he becomes an Adhikari. I have not the least doubt in asserting this: that Krishnanandaji has made his Vedantic life to be based upon perfect Adhikaritwa. As such, you see in him an ideal exemplar of Sadhana Chatushtaya. His Viveka is twenty-four hour's Viveka. Every moment of his life, he is ever discriminating. His mind is never slumbering, never relaxed. This is his criterion: whatever he does, whatever experience comes to him, “will this help my spiritual life or retard my spiritual life?” This is the measuring rod which he has. He is absolutely firm in his principles and in using this measuring rod. If it is unspiritual he rejects it without a second thought. It is a discrimination which always chooses the Sreya Marga.

Swami Krishnanandaji is an embodiment of the Nachiketas element. Sadhana Chatushtaya are proud to come and have their dwelling in such a worthy receptacle. What his Titiksha is, I can say with some little first-hand knowledge. The body has been given a big slice of a very trying Prarabdha—suffering which would have broken an ordinary person down. But his life is already based upon this conviction; Ajo Nityah Saswatoyam Purano, No Hanyate Hanymane Sareere. Therefore, he bore all sufferings like a hero. Without breath no man can live; and his Prarabdha tried to choke his life—breath; what battles he has fought with the sufferings of the body, only he can adequately know. Yet; all through this his firm faith in the knowledge of the Self has never wavered. Therefore, he is an embodiment of Titiksha. It has got another form: whatever suffering, whatever diseases, and whatever troubles and difficulties come to him, he would never mention it to anybody, and never make an effort to correct it. This is Titiksha. He accepts whatever comes to him. He will never come to anyone and say “I have not got this.” Do not try to make any remedy for the suffering that visits the body. Don't seek comfort: if it comes well and good and if it does not come, well and good. Something distasteful has come: don't try to escape it. Swami Krishnanandji has always tried to keep this ideal of Titiksha before him in his daily life. For that, he always goes to the original source of wisdom—whatever definition Shankara has given for all these Sadhanas, he always takes them. Shankara's definitions he keeps as his ideal and tries to keep to them.

His inner life is a shining flame of aspiration. Day and night he is consumed with the aspiration for the relisation of the Absolute. All other things don't exist for him. That is the type of inner life that Swami Krishnanandaji has got.

Even though ordinarily Vedantins are supposed to be theoretical and do not take part in Karma Yoga, Swami Krishnanandaji has done wonderful service in the dispensary. Day and night he has served as the sole “in-charge” of the dispensary. Even though his nature was something inward, introspective, yet when the call of duty came, he, in spite of his nature, came out and served wonderfully. Even now, you will find that he is ceaselessly working. His work is of such a nature that there is nothing spectacular; but he never wastes a single moment. His is a most systmatic life in this Ashram.

I have never heard him raise his voice and speak. I have never heard him utter a harsh word. I have myself tried many times to make him express a very critical and condemnatory opinion; he has never done so even when the case more than justified a sharp rebuke or condemnation. He has made himself an embodiment of tolerance that Gurudev was.

His life is one permeated by one of pure Brahma-Abhyasa. He is constantly thinking, dwelling in and absorbed in the thought of the Highest Reality, in the thought of that One Transcendental, Imperishable, Infinite, Nameless, Formless, ever-present, all-pervading Reality. That is the sort of spontaneous Sadhana which he does, and he lives as a Jivanmukta would live.

His life is an ideal which everyone should try to emulate. Socially and individually, his conduct and behaviour may well be the enviable ideal of a perfect gentleman. His speech, the decorum of his behaviour, his conduct, his social intercourse—everything is that of an ideal gentleman.

In his daily life, in his routine, in the discipline, which he practises, he is an ideal for a Sadhaka.

His attitude towards life and his vision of the world, is an ideal pattern for any saint to adopt.

The consciousness which he always holds within himself is the ideal for a Jivanmukta, which we find mentioned in Vidyaranya's Jivanmukti-Viveka and Panchadasi.

These four ideals are blended in the various aspects of his life. He has tried to mould himself upon the highest ideal of perfection which we Indians and Hindus have, viz., the life of Purna-Avatara Sri Krishna. Early in life, Krishnanandaji was inspired by the Gita, he was fascinated by the perfection and splendour of Lord Krishna. He has followed and striven earnestly and successfully to grow into likeness of the Gita-ideal and the Krishna-ideal. Knowing fully well that He was a Purna-Avatara, Krishna played the role on earth; knowing fully that the world is a reflection of his own mind, Krishnanandaji is ever active in playing the role that is allotted to him. Happily, in his intuitive wisdom, Sri Gurudev has given him the name “Swami Krishnananda”, one who partakes of the Bliss of the Krishna-Consciousness. Krishnanandaji knows that the entire world is a shadow-play: he is not affected by it. At the same time, he is ever centred in the consciousness of the Highest Reality, Satchidananda.

Constant association with him should not blind us to the glory and splendour and the worth of such souls as Krishnanandaji. He is carrying on the tradition of Sanatkumaras. We have got in our midst a great Vibhuti. We should realise this, and reflect seriously on what he stands for, and the ideal he embodies in his life. The highest compliment we can pay to these great people is to emulate them and become blessed.