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Swami Krishnananda in Conversation
by Swami Krishnananda
Compiled by S. Bhagyalakshmi

Gurudev's Durbar

At Swami Krishnananda's morning darshan hours, when he sits with his devotees, one gets a flashback of Swami Sivananda's morning Satsang. Whereas the durbar of Gurudev was held in the Diamond Jubilee Hall the devotees, visitors, seekers or ashramites or anyone that drops in at that time, sits around Swami Krishnananda in the closed verandah of the Kutir or in the terrace outside. So let me recall for you Gurudev's “Durbar”. Around 10 in the morning Siva used to take his seat in the armchair or easy-chair when his health was too poor for him to sit upright. He would start the Satsang with Jaya Ganesa, together with all those sitting around the chair crammed into the small space where the three or four typists also are working. The devotional singing ends with a Namavali on the deity of the day. [Lord Suryanarayana is believed to be the lord of Sunday. Monday is attributed to Siva, and Saturday to Vishnu, and so on.] Maybe a particular devotee was also asked to give a Namavali for about another five minutes.

Soon after this the typewriters, half a dozen in number, start to clatter away once more. Siva paid his respects to all and then enquired of each individually his or her welfare, problems, the purpose of his or her visit in a manner that convinced each person that Siva had been longingly awaiting meeting that person in particular. “Devanand, come, give us the prasad, 'morning glory',” which was his code-word for cashewnuts.

Or, sometimes: “Kutia Krishna, where are the dosais and chutney? O! You are a great man; see! he has prepared dosai with chutney. Give, give half a Dosai to everyone—O! not enough? All right, one-fourth to each but put chutney on every bit.” He would turn to a housewife and ask, “Taste it and tell me what the ingredients are! No, No, it is not prepared with rice flour—can't find out? It is prepared exactly as the usual dosai—with rava [Sujii.e. rollon]. Ah! Badrinath! Give us a short lecture on your pilgrimage to Badri.” The young boy of about fifteen squares his shoulders and speaks.

Piles of parcels of books safely packed and addressed to different people are brought in. Each of about twenty parcels with one or more books is individually shown to Siva, who scans the address and such relevant details. A short tap with the forefinger on the parcel meant that it is O.K. and may be posted. A few parcels are disposed of thus.

Badri who had been speaking suddenly has stage-fright and fumbles to get to a finish! Siva looks up: “Wonderful! Thank you! Thank you! Sit down and take rest. How did you learn to speak so well?” Thus Siva saves Badri from embarrassment. “Hm… O!… Mataji, give us a song on Lord Shanmuga. You are His devotee.” Or, it was: “…Mataji, you recite Trisati so that all can be blessed by Devi.” Siva continues to check parcels. The song or Trisati is over and the parcels have been checked and the despatch person takes them away. “Wonderful!” smiles Siva at Mataji. Another visitor in the meanwhile says: “Swamiji, please ask her to sing another song.” …Mataji: “My throat is not all right due to the bath in the Ganga.” Siva, speaking to one of the Brahmacharis at the typewriter: “O; Ji! A good song on Shanmuganathan is wanted.”

The young “novice”, a Brahmachari at the typewriter, stops typing and gives a beautiful Tamil hymn in a melodious voice while the other typists continue their typing slightly slowing down so that the noise from the typewriters is subdued.

“Hm… O! Ji! Yes, what happened to the article to be printed?” The Press personnel is sent for, comes in, gives the report and returns to his work. By now the song is over.

A purohit has to perform a Yajna and says with a Dandavat Pranam: “Swamiji's blessing and… help only can enable me to carry out my Sankalpa…” The ritual details of the yajna are discussed with him and thereby he finds out the truth and strength of the vow. “Hm… Give him ten Pandavas.” From one of the four bags [One bag contained ''prasad”—biscuits, fruits, etc. The second, money—in cash. The third had books for free distribution. The fourth contained pens, pencils, papers, pads, etc.] the attending Sannyasi or Brahmachari has with him ten X five (fifty) rupees are given to the purohit. Pandavas were five in number! So this was Gurudev's code word for five rupees. Only the donor and the receiver knew the total amount; the others did not. Santosh Mataji has come from the hospital. “At least three hundred rupees are needed immediately while we may wait for further supply whenever God chooses to give us. I have requested…Mataji to donate this sum of money to us…” “Is that so?” asks Siva of the would-be donor. “Yes, Swamiji, whatever Swamiji says.” A cheque is given to Siva. Siva touches it to his head and then turns to the donor: “God will bless you thrice for this great help you are giving to the poor who cannot afford to buy medicines. God will give you ten times in reward.”

A new visitor came in. “O! Welcome, welcome! How are you?' O! Ji! Put a chair for the honourable visitor.”

A chit is handed to Siva: “I am invited for lunch, a feast by… And I am to bring as many guests as I want. You, you… please have lunch with me. Not the Ashram food.”

Another day perhaps it was when a visitor with dreary looks and dismal expression comes in. Even as he enters, Siva as an aside remarks, “Now, this man will come and cry. He repeats the same thing and the same cry no matter how much you have advised him as to what to do and be happy…Yes, Namaskar! How are you? O! Ji! You should not cry in public and laugh in private. The other way round, laugh in public and cry in private. Do not make others unhappy by crying in public… O! Devanand, has Swami…been sent fruits and milk? He is not well.” “Yes, Swamiji.” “O! Ji! Come here, go to … and find out if fruit and milk were sent to the sick Swamiji last night. Ask Kutia Krishnan to prepare tasty kichadi and send it to him.”

Smt. S.B.S. enters with a panchang [ephemeris].“Swami Sadanandaji has fixed the Muhurtam for the thread ceremony for next month, in July.” Siva: “O Good! He is a very good astrologer.” Starts Jaya Ganesa, Jaya Ganesa… This invocatory prayer is sung for about two to three minutes for the success of the auspicious function.

Here comes another mother carrying a child of about three or four with all the signs of being blessed and whose mundane [ritual first shaving of a child's head] ceremony had been conducted with havan earlier that morning up on the hill at the Vishwanatha Mandir. The father of the child brings prasad,offering it to Gurudev with garlands, and the family prostrate before Siva. They are duly blessed and the prasad distributed.

The manuscripts of Siva have been typed and are brought in to be seen by Siva. The young Swami had typed all night and towards the early hours of the morning he had probably got a little slack and the last few pages were finished rather indifferently thinking that Siva will not have time to go right through to the end. The typed sheets were placed before Siva who at once pulled out a few sheets from the bottom of the pile, noted the indifferent turnout; looked at the Swami but said nothing. This devoted disciple did not need any chiding, only a gentle pointer, that Siva knew everything, every trick. Now it is lunch hour. “The meal is getting cold,” comes the reminder from the guest kitchen. The Shantipath is being chanted: Om poornamadah.

As Siva comes out of the Diamond Jubilee Hall, “Swami Satchidanand! Are you writing a diary of all the morning satsangs? Yes, yes. Keep it very carefully. Note down everything and all present.”

Such was Gurudev's durbar, the morning satsang. A relevant fact may be noted here—the young Sanyasi Swami Krishnananda was hardly ever present at any of these morning satsangs of Siva. Yet Swami Krishnananda's darshan hours recreate the very atmosphere of these satsangs. This is because Swami Krishnananda is a Guru-amsa. Over a period of four years very many of the morning darshan hours which are from about 9.30-11.30 A.M. when the Guru-amsa is available for every type of person, problem and request have been recorded for the benefit of those who are interested in philosophy, yoga, meditation, etc., whether they be his revered Self's devotees, admirers, visitors or passing tourists or the like, have sought and seek guidance on spiritual matters like the context of Isvara in Sankara's Advaita philosophy. It has been practical to include only a third of these recordings in this volume.