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Glorious Fifty Years of Wisdom and Service
A Souvenir released on Swami Krishnananda's 50th Birthday

A Divine Messenger

by Sri Swami Shankarananda, Durban, S Africa

On the 9th of April, 1970 at about 9 a.m. the taxi which was parked near the Yoga Museum, was ready to leave for Hardwar from where I was to leave for New Delhi and begin my journey back to South Africa after nearly four-and-a half years stay in the holy ashram of our Beloved Gurudeva Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. At this moment I stood with head lowered and my eyes probing into the holy sands which bore my weight and sustained me. Most of the Senior monks of the ashram had assembled to offer a prayer for me on my departure. When I took my seat in the car, H.H. Sri Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj came forward, and held my two hands in Swamiji's. Nothing was said and silence prevailed. But I understood Swamiji's feeling for me, a stray seeker. Yes, Swamiji was my mother, father, friend, guide and above all a wisdom personified preceptor at whose feet I had the rare blessed privilege of staying and learning.

During my first stay in the Ashram in 1959, which came to a sudden termination within four months of stay, due to circumstances beyond my control, my contact with Swamiji was rather restricted to a few rare occasions. During this period though Swamiji was engaged in administrative work, Swamiji was far from being easily accessible due to Swamiji's love for a strict disciplined life, study and constant contemplation. I heard much about Swamiji's inexhaustible appetite for studies into the profound scriptures of the Upanishads, the Epics, the Puranas and the six schools of Indian Philosophy, Western philosopny and scriptures of different religions of the world. When I returned to South Africa in 1960, thereafter, some stray thoughts did perch upon the surface of my mind recalling those few rare occasions of meeting Swamiji. Swamiji's thirst for Realization and the tremendous gusto with which Swamiji approached this, made me feel a most insignificant and lost in the forest-like hairy mane of a lion. This feeling always had the better of me and did approach Swamiji in thought from a great distance.

It was during my second stay in the Ashram that I gravitated close to Swamiji. The pull became greater and greater in intensity during Swamiji's lectures on Gita twice a week and a weekly talk on subjects of general spiritual instructions. In course of time the latter was replaced with a third talk on the Gita each week. The profundity and depth with which Swamiji discourse on the Gita transported me to great heights which left a lasting and indelible impression upon my mind. As a neophyte this was absolutely necessary to cement my feet deeper and deeper into the quest for the spirit. As the days, weeks and months uncovered themselves gradually, I soon realized that Swamiji was to be secretly installed in the bosom of my heart for all times to come. THAT irresistible yearning by the Gopis to be constantly in the company of Sri Bhagavan Krishna began to have a deeper implication and connotation, differentiating the carnal demands from that of the Spiritual, being fully aware that my love and the compulsion to be in Swamiji's company as much as possible, were of the degrees of the lowest strata in my aspiration. Whenever I had the blessed fortune of being in Swamiji's company I was struck with awe and wonder with Swamiji's simplicity in spite of Swamiji's eloquent command over the oration and presentation of any metaphysical or philosophical Truth. Whenever Swamiji discussed any topic from the scriptures, it was like an ocean being created with its cooling properties on the sands in the torrid heat of a desert. I was engulfed in a sea of wonderment to learn from my own experience that the human mind could have such a capacity to raise an undeveloped mind such as mine to celestial heights of peace and calm, though it may be for a very short while, by a lucid and simple elucidation of instructions on mediation and its vital benefits to the seeker, as a result of its practise. No moment spent in Swamiji's company is other than spiritual whether it be work or otherwise.

On many occasions I had been with a group of visitors and sometimes alone to Swamiji's office which occupies the floor of a veranda or any room for that matter, though Swamiji would be deeply absorbed in administrative work and attending to the minutest of details with heads of different departments of the Ashram, there always was a welcoming warmth radiating from Swamiji's whole being. Within a matter of minutes Swamiji would switch on the power-house of Eternal Wisdom instantaneously focussing the flood-lights on the purpose of human life. A grand treat, to those earnest seekers, would be presented in all its glory and grandeur. This connotes in no uncertain terms the Realization of our Master's genius child. In Swamiji's company there is no sorrow, anguish or suffering. Everything is full and complete. In such company can there be want other than spiritual?

As a preceptor which is not Swamiji's claim, Swamiji represents cur ancient system of Guru-Sishya relationship; every word whether written or said has the current of Upanishadic thought permeating and flowing most distinguishedly, every bit of work is a worship of the Divine; giving us an idea, a touch of King Janaka's spiritual attainments.

The love and worshipfulness with which I esteemed Swamiji for all the spiritual nourishment and sustenance, I was being conferred, as my days at the ashram increased, reached great heights towards the last few months of my stay when a special Yoga Class for foreigners was conducted from the middle of January to the middle of March, 1970. The ashram had about forty students hailing from different parts of the world coming from many walks of life. There was not one student who could have returned untouched.

Swamiji spared nothing to see to their comforts in details both physically and spiritually. After welcoming and comforting them in the true Indian tradition the treatment in the realm of the spirit, administered, would I am sure, be envied, even by the gods. This flowed unabatedly for two timeless months. As the number of days advanced, the lecture hall was nothing but a flood of Divinity inundating every student physically, vitally, mentally and intellectually. Many personal conversations with the students revealed to me the same experiences I had during the early part of my stay. The students were overwhelmed. Their love and affection for Swamiji as a great divinity began to be exposed without any reservation. In the meantime the worshipfulness with which I regarded Swamiji rose to colossal heights in this period and to this day it continues unabatedly. I can't recall one student who could have returned without being touched to the very depths of his being. The wisdom flowed from the deepest recesses of Swamiji's heart accompanied by the usual superbly—styled oration. When the time came for the termination of the special class and to make way for the usual summer onrush of pilgrims who invade Rishikesh and most holy places in Uttarakhand, many students wished that they could continue their stay. Some stayed on and the others had to move on for they had commitments in their respective countries. The spiritual treatment which they had, I am sure will be meaningful and applicable wherever they may be and whatever avocation they establish themselves in. The outpourings of Swamiji was really great.

Nothing could be more glorious than to wish that I could have the privilege once again to be at Swamiji's feet in Sri Gurudev's Ashram on the holy banks of the Ganges River at the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains in Rishikesh.

If Swamiji could offer so much invaluable spiritual guidance and instructions to all those who came into contact with Swamiji in spite of the heavy pressure of administrations and poor health, it makes me wonder to what extent Swamiji will go to in order to serve the spiritual needs of sincere aspirants, should the responsibility of administrative work be withdrawn and good health prevails.

Swamiji will be completing fifty years of earthly sojourn in April this year. May I be permitted this privilege of wishing Swamiji on this most happy and auspicious occasion a very very happy birthday. May Swamiji live many many more years on this earthly plane to guide and lead us all to a more glorious life in the spirit. To Swamiji this day will be like all other days. To us it is of special significance, a day of great rejoicing and happiness. In all humility let us offer our worshipful prayers to God for sending us such a messenger, and Gurudev for installing such a rare and conspicuous jewel in the Crown of the Divine Life Mission. In this age we are very blessed to have such spiritual personalities such as Swamiji. Let us also offer prayer to God and Gurudev to nourish and sustain all our Gurubhais in the Ashram for so gloriously continuing our Master's Mission on this holy day. May we also remember H.H. Sris Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj, Madhavanandaji Maharaj, Dayanandaji Maharaj and Paramanandaji Maharaj for their contribution to the Master's Mission for so many years on this most holy day.

Glory into God! Glory unto Gurudev! I Glory unto Swamiji Maharaj!!!