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

Swami Krishnananda: Philosopher and Saint

by Sudarshan Sharma, Nagaur-Marwar

I consider it a great privilege to be allowed to join in celebrating the 50th Birthday of H.H. Swami Krishnananda, the General Secretary of the Divine Life Society. His Holiness is a gem of the Divine Life Society and a brilliant star in the firmament of spiritual life. May the Lord bless him with health and long life so that he may continue to dwell among us manifesting the glory of our great master, Swami Sivananda.

His Holiness Swami Krishnananda is one of the most prominent disciples of H.H. Swami Sivananda. He is a Guru-Bhakta in the real sense of the word. I remember to have read somewhere the words of our Master, Swami Sivananda, saying that in future he alone will be regarded as his true follower who will try, to the end of his life to spread his teachings called "The Yoga of Synthesis". H. H. Swami Krishnananda has been doing just this for the last so many years. He has dedicated his whole life to this end. Like the Sower in the parable, he has gone forth scattering the seeds of Vedantic wisdom in abundant measure and by now, these seeds have yielded a rich harvest multiplying themselves a hundredfold. Because of his tireless work, our Master's message has reached the far-flung regions of the world. He works in the spirit of selflessness and utter dedication. The motives that impel him are not secular but spiritual. He works, not with any attachment that is worldly but with a love that is not of this world, He is a divine shepherd and a great Yogi. The following words of Kabir apply to him in every sense:

The meaning is that one who works without the sense of doership is a true follower of the Guru.

Epictetus used to say that all philosophy consists in two words—sustain and abstain. It means that philosophy is not so much a system of abstract thought as a scheme of life; not so much a collection of theories as a way of life. True philosophy changes a man's convictions and not his conventions. It makes him not only well-informed but also fully transformed. Were it not so, there would be no difference between a great philosopher and an ordinary fool. H.H. Swami Krishnananda is a philosopher in this sense. He teaches philosophy by living it. This is the reason why visitors from both east and west carry a deep and abiding impression even after a brief interview with him. He teaches more by contact than by conversation. Visitors, in his presence, learn more by the total impact than by the oral instruction. Last summer, he said to me something which I still remember clearly as if it was said yesterday. He said to me, "People have the habit of seeing God only in beautiful and impressive things. It was easy to see God in Swami Sivananda, for he was godly and divine in appearance, but it is very difficult to see God in a man who comes, weapon in hand, to attack you. God is there in all things whether they are beautiful or ugly. The day you attain this vision, you will experience real Shanti." Then he stopped and turning to me said, "All that you see around you is yourself only."

The above words indicate the inner state of Swami Krishnananda. He divinises every object and action and thus lives in the spirit of Vedanta day and night. Emerson used to say, "My friend, your life cries loudly that I cannot hear your words." The meaning is that the general tone of a man's life speaks a language which is more powerful than words. What a man does not say is sometimes more important than what he does say. In the life of H.H. Swami Krishnananda there is no such cleavage between precept and action. He says only what he himself has experienced. This is why there is power in his speech for, as Jesus says, the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. Great poets utter in song what they have learnt in suffering. Likewise, true philosophers utter in words what they have verified in their experience. H.H. Swami Krishnananda is a philosopher as well as a saint. He teaches us not only what to "do" but also what to "be". His approach is more than ethical. He includes and transcends ethics. A man at the ethical level is like the one who has been baptised with water only. Now he must be re-baptised with fire and spirit. If a man's righteousness does not exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, he has no chance of entering the Kingdom of God. The Swami, in his numerous writings, calls upon us to rise to level which is qualitatively different and higher. We are not to content ourselves by expanding and refining the same old personality. Personality is not the reality. Knowledge must be supplanted by wisdom and wisdom must be supplemented with holiness. Even the physical frame of H. H. Swami Krishnananda bears not secular glamour but a sacred glow. He is like a jewel that shines by its own light. His personal contact is highly purifying.

H.H. Swami Krishnananda is an eloquent speaker and an eminent writer. I had many an opportunity to hear him speak. He speaks extempore and expounds his thesis gradually and coherently. He never makes any gestures and not allows his voice to become unnecessarily loud. He speaks with poise, dignity and grace. The ideas flow one after the other in logical sequence. He knows the art of giving expression to abstract and subtle concepts that often defy language. As a writer, H.H. Swami Krishnananda excels many eminent writers. In the words of Francis Bacon, Swami Krishnananda writes only such books as are to be chewed and digested. The content of his books is invariably metaphysical in character and needs a sustained effort on the part of the reader to grasp and assimilate. According to C.E.M. Joad, there are two styles of writing: "The expression on of obscurity" and "the obscurity of expression". While the former is desirable, the latter is not. H.H. Swami Krishnananda knows how to put into words the things that belong to the realm of experience. In this respect his way of expressing can be compared with that of Radhakrishnan.

H. H. Swami Krishnananda is a spiritual giant and a Jivanmukta. He knows how to guide an aspirant in spiritual Sadhana. He knows intuitively the hidden side of an aspirant's inner life. He can discern at a glance the stage in spiritual life to which an aspirant has risen. He can intuitively find out what is going on in the mind of a visitor. I can say this from my own experience. Aspirants often fail in their quest because they look for right things at wrong places. They do not distinguish between mere scholarship and Self-realisation. No one can hope to reach the goal of spiritual life without the help and guidance of a spiritual adept. In this respect we can say: he that followeth "Christ" walketh not in darkness. How true are the words of Kabir in this context:

The meaning is that aspirants fail because they do not know where to look for spiritual perfection. Kabir says he himself found his goal because he received guidance from the "Knower" or the spiritual adept. The result was that in the company of the adept he traversed the distance in minutes which otherwise would have taken him a million births to go across.

Saints belong to all ages and climes. They ignore the passing shows of this world and fix their gaze upon the fundamental verities of life. In the words of Radhakrishnan, the saints start their career by losing their characters! They do not expand but transcend their personalities. They are never content to remain at the ethical level but long to rise to the higher realm of spirit where they can see the Father face to face. They are like the wind that bloweth where it listeth. Theirs is a lawless realm, as it were! There is complete freedom at that stage. "Love and do what you like" seems to be the law at that level. Saints love, not as the world loveth, but as Upagupta, the disciple of the Buddha, loved the sister of ill-fame or Jesus loved Mary Magdalene. H.H. Swami Krishnananda is one such saint who is capable of responding to a soul in torment. May His Holiness live long and work among us so that people may look at his works and glorify God who is in the heart of each one of us. Long live H. H. Swami Krishnananda! Jai Sivananda! Ram. Ram. Ram.