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Glimpses of Swami Chidananda
Gurur Brahma gurur vishnur gurur devo maheshwarah
Gurur sakshat param Brahma tasmai sree guruve namah
Two years back, on the auspicious occasion of the Golden Jubilee year of the Sannyas diksha of Param Pujya Gurudev Swami Chidananda Saraswati Maharaj, the organisers of the Global International Divine Life Society Conference at Mumbai published “Chidananda Hu”–a most wonderful compilation of Pujya Swamiji’s enlightened sayings with exquisite photographs of Swamiji on different occasions.
Now, on the occasion of the Second Global International Divine Life Conference at Cuttack from 30th December, 2001, to 2nd. January, 2002, a similar endeavor has been made through this publication–“GLIMPSES OF SWAMI CHIDANANDA”–which is a love-offering at the Lotus Feet of Pujya Swamiji by two of his initiated disciples, Smt. Snigdha Choudhury and Sri Laxmi Kanta Choudhury.
Param Pujya Gurudev Swami Chidananda himself writing the Foreword of the earlier publication, “Chidananda Hu” had this to say about “Swami Chidananda”:
“I am a disciple of worshipful and beloved Holy Master most revered Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. Since that moment (first darshan of the Holy Master in the afternoon of 19th May, 1943) upto this present moment I have been only …. a servant at the Holy Master’s feet. And to the best of my ability, an obedient disciple, striving to live the way He taught us to live our life. I am trying to serve Him in as many ways as possible. What have I been over these past 55 years, that I am now even at this moment. That I shall continue to be to the very end of my earth life. A disciple and a servant”.
These words of Pujya Swamiji Maharaj, as indeed each and every act of his over these last 57 years, bear ample testimony to Pujya Swamijis exemplary devotion and service at the Lotus Feet of the Worshipful Master, Param pujya Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, and shows us all, in no uncertain terms, the highest ideals of Guru-bhakti and Guru-seva.
But, then, what did the Holy Master himself have to say about Swami Chidananda the foremost amongst his many disciples? AS long back as in 1954, on the occasion of the 39th Birthday Celebrations of Swami Chidanandaji, the Holy Master conferred upon Pujya Swamiji, the sacred title of “Adhyatma-Jnana-Jyoti” and stated that “in the previous birth itself he (Swami Chidananda) was a Sannyasin”.
On yet another occasion, Param Gurudev Swami Sivananda was even more explicit. He said:
“Chidanandaji was a great yogi and saint in his previous birth itself; this is his last birth. Chidanand is a jeevanmukta, a great saint, an ideal yogi, a para bhakta and a great sage. Swami Chidananda is this and much more. He is the Kohi-i-noor of the mission. Chidanandaji’s lectures are the outpourings of his saintly heart, the revelations of his intuitive wisdom. His lectures must be printed in gold”.
The highest esteem and admiration which the Holy Master bestowed upon his disciple is revealed further by the following words of Swami Sivananda in one of his addresses to the Ashramites in Sivananda Ashram:–
“All of you should treat Swami Chidanandaji as your Guru. Even I revere him as my Guru. I have learnt countless lessons from him. I love him; I adore him; his knowledge is vast; his wisdom is inspired and intuitive. His good nature is unrivalled. His heart is very large and his kindness is unequalled. All of you should learn from him. Then only will you improve, develop and evolve”.
Very rarely indeed has a Guru (that too one of the eminence of Swami Sivananda) spoken in such glowing terms about his own disciple. It was not surprising, therefore, that when the time came, Swami Sivananda chose Swami Chidananda to lead the great spiritual movement begun by him. A few days before his Mahasamadhi, the Holy Master was visited by his childhood friend, Sri Kavi Yogi Shuddhananda Bharatiar who asked of the Master–“Swamiji please tell me the immortal legacy that you would bequeath to humanity besides your books and buildings. Is it The Divine Life Society? Or is it the holy assembly of Sannyasins that you have trained?” After a few thoughtful moments, the Holy Master replied; “Of course, Chidananda–He is the living legacy I leave behind me to carry on, after me, the mission of Divine Life”.
Over the years, Pujya Swami Chidanandaji’s benign and holy presence has evoked the highest admiration, praise and reverence from one and all, from his eminent Guru-bhais to the ordinary sadhak, both within India and abroad. Next to the Worshipful Master, no other person has perhaps observed Swami Chidanandaji as closely and intimately as his own revered Guru-bhai, Pujya Swami Krishnananda Saraswati Maharaj, the other jewel in the Sivananda Treasury. In an article entitled “Light from the East” written in 1976 on the holy Sixtieth Birthday Anniversary of Pujya Swami Chidanandaji, this is what Swami Krishnananda said about his Guru-bhai:
“On this auspicious occasion of the holy Sixtieth Birthday Anniversary (Shashtyabdapurti) of Revered Sri Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj, President of the Divine Life Society, I have the honor to pen these few lines for the benefit of all those who would be seeking to know the nature of the truth which has been burning brilliantly as a lamp shedding its cool rays around within the frame of this frail physical personality”.
“Sri Swamiji, in an honest and humble opinion which I have held after a thorough and dispassionate study and analysis, is veritably a noble piece from the very salt of the earth, which has kept it sweet. But how, one may ask. And here is a happy outcome of my careful observation for the last about thirty years, continuously. I am quite aware that there are devotees, disciples, admirers and students of the Swamiji in different parts of the world, who have spoken and written variously on the exemplary good life of love, service and illumination that he has been living, to the great joy of everyone, everywhere. But very few can be said to have had the chance of studying him and learning from him as much as I have been able to do, since my association with him for the larger part of my life has been many-sided: personal, fraternal, social, official and spiritual, all at once. Sri Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj has been not only my perpetual friend, philosopher and guide at all times but even a Guru in many respects, a person I adore next in reverence only to Worshipful Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. In fact, my entire understanding of life has come from two unforgettable sources; Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj and Revered Sri Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj. While the transcendental aspects of the vision of life may be said to have been taught to me by Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, its immanental aspects have been driven into my mind by the self-sacrificing life of Sri Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj”.
Much has been said and volumes could be written on the divine personality of Swami Chidananda, but words will certainly fail to describe the indescribable. Is it ever possible to measure the depths of the immeasurable? From the standpoint of the earnest seeker, it is sufficient to say that the one who has reached the Lotus Feet of Pujya Swamiji is blessed indeed. His spiritual journey to the ultimate destination is assured beyond any shade of doubt. A foreign devotee once asked Swamiji, “Swamiji, Will I attain God-Realisation?” Swamijis reply was firm and crisp. He said:
“If you buy a railway ticket to your desired destination and board the train which is going to that destination, do you ever doubt as to whether that train will take you to your destination? Similarly, once you have boarded the Chidananda train, rest assured that you will reach your divine destination”.
For the fortunate ones who have boarded the “Chidananda train”, it is important indeed to remain seated till the final destination is reached. In other words, this implies that each devotee or disciple must implicitly and fully follow the instructions of Shri Gurudev at all times. It is then and only then that the Guru’s Grace shines forth to illumine the divine lamp within us. To this end, the selection of teachings of Param Pujya Gurudev Swami Chidanandaji contained in this book will prove a most invaluable treasure-house of instructions for each sadhak. May the Grace of Shri Shri Jagannath Mahaprabhu and Shri Sadgurudev inspire and guide each sincere aspirant on the path DIVINE.
Hari Om Tat Sat.