by Yvonne Lebeau
Paperback: 175 pages
Book Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.7 x 1.1 inches
Shipping Weight: 200 grams
Table of Contents
|The Guru Comes into My Life||13|
|Death Unfolds Its Mysteries||29|
|Am I a Hindu?||50|
|The Power that Protects||76|
|With Swamiji in the Ashram||88|
|Self-restraint: The Foundation of Yoga||99|
|Paula: Abhishiktananda: Karunananda||106|
|The Divinity of Womanhood||124|
|Chidananda and the Children of Father Damien||133|
|Birds, Beasts and Insects||143|
|Like Unto Christ||149|
|As the West Views Him||160|
SRI SWAMI CHIDANANDA
AN APOSTLE OF PEACE AND EMBODIMENT OF
QUINTESSENCE OF INDIA’S SPRITUAL & CULTURAL HERITAGE
Revered Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji’s worthy spiritual successor has been referred to as follows, “If one wants to see boldness of spirit behind a slender appearance, irrevertible command of heart behind a benign face, unwavering peace of mind behind dynamism of action, impersonal detachment behind personal love and care—all at once in a single person, one cannot do better than meet Swami Chidananda.”
Born on 24th September, 1916, into a wealthy Brahmin family in South India, Swami Chidananda absorbed love for tradition and respect for rituals. At Loyola College, Madras, Swamiji had a brilliant scholastic career. The ideals and teachings of Jesus made a deep impression in his heart, and he was able to synthesize them with all that is best and noble in Hindu Culture. The two profound influences in Swamiji’s life were the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna and the example of his Gurudev, Sri Swami Sivananda. He joined Gurudev in 1943 and from then on the Ashram and the lofty ideals of the Divine Life Society became home and field of service for him.
Swami Chidananda was born with an insatiable zeal to serve the sick and the suffering. Even in childhood he built huts for lepers on the lawns of his home and looked after them as though they were deities.
Swami Sivananda said about his spiritual son and beloved disciple:
“Chidananda is a Jivanmukta, a great Saint, an ideal Yogi, a Para-Bhakta and a great sage. Swami Chidananda is all this and much more. He was a great Yogi and Saint in his previous birth. His lectures are the outpourng of his saintly heart, the revelations of intuitive wisdom. And he is a practical Vedantin, his words have tremendous power. He is born to fulfill a great mission.”
His Holiness Pujya Sri Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj
and through him
to all the Gurus
who in an unbroken line
for the past many millennia
have transmitted to mankind the spiritual heritage
of the holy land of India
Chidananda is a Jivanmukta, a great saint,
an ideal Yogi, a Para Bhakta and a great sage.
Swami Chidananda is all this and much more…
He was born to fulfil a great mission.
He is the torch-bearer of my mission,
This book by Yvonne Lebeau, a spiritual seeker from France, is in the nature of a tribute to her Guru or spiritual mentor, Sri Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj.
An interesting aspect of the book is the light it throws on the encounter between the occidental mind and oriental philosophy.
Another aspect of the book—and an equally significant one—is the insight it gives into the various struggles which every spiritual seeker has to undergo in traversing the path of Yoga or conscious spiritual evolution.
It speaks volumes for the magnanimity of the author that she has been motivated by an earnest desire that the message of this book, viz., the message of Yoga-Vedanta, should be broadcast far and wide, especially in the Western world. May God bless her with health, long life and many more years of spiritual service and illumination too!
The present edition is enriched with fresh matter that the writer felt would add to the value of the book.
March 3rd, 1989
—THE DIVINE LIFE SOCIETY.
After my coming to Sivananda Ashram and into contact with Pujya Sri Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj, I have received many letters from devotees and friends asking me to put down in writing, for the benefit of all, some of the stories I had told them on different occasions. Some said: “If you can’t write, tape-record them and we will write them. We have been so inspired by them and everywhere we relate them, people have the same reaction. Those stories must not get lost and forgotten, for they depict Swamiji’s saintliness better than words of devotion could ever do. And for Westerners, for people who are new to Yoga, those stories show what a Guru like Chidananda really is. They show how he can protect, teach and guide the disciple who has faith in him, and how faith can work wonders.”
“Relate your own experiences too,” they said, “for though we can read such things in books, it is so inspiring to see it happening to one of us, someone we know, one who led a very happy life and who was very much attached to everything, to everyone around her, her husband, her children, even to her country, and her security, and possessed no special qualities whatsoever.”
But as I found myself unable to speak in front of a tape-recorder, I started to write. At first I was a little apprehensive as I tried to describe the wonders of Swamiji’s saintliness, his awe-inspiring greatness. For, how could something which passes human understanding be put into words? Also, how could I speak of a philosophy I knew so little about? Was not my way of Yoga, more a way of acceptance and experience first, and knowledge coming slowly afterwards?
But, as I went on with my work, a great joy came over me, for, writing about Swamiji meant I was in his invisible presence all day; his grace guided me and help came from all sides.
When the book was practically finished, some Indian ladies, great and sincere devotees of Swamiji, told me: “You should not have been so short in the description of how you met Swamiji and of your own experiences. For us Indians, it is the most inspiring part, especially as you are a Westerner.”
So I added a few pages, where I tried to describe the role of Chidananda in my life and the wonders of his guidance, which I was then made to realise anew: and a song of gratitude, a song of joy welled up in my heart. And if I had been reluctant to write about my sufferings and trials, I was now made to be happy because I realised that it would bring a message of hope to all the suffering ones. They would know for ever, as Charles de Foucault expresses it so beautifully, that “the darker the night of suffering, the more radiant the life of pure love and joy that emerges from it.”
Now I must say a special thanks to Sri Ananthanarayanan who took the responsibility of editing, planning and supervising the production of the book in all its stages.
I will never forget the way he had the patience to decipher the pages about my son’s death.
I had written then for myself… The mechanical action of writing and the profuse tears that I had shed while doing it, had seemed to relieve me and keep me alive… But the tears had wet the paper and made it practically impossible to read what I had written.
Ananthanarayanan often had to put the sheets of paper against a light so as to be able to read my words.
The feelings he had for the book, the intuition he had that I could write and transmit, and the perseverance with which he infused courage into me to publish the book afterwards is also something rare.
So if the book has helped many a seeking soul it is in great part to him that their hearts should turn to in gratitude.
I would also like to say a very special word of thanks to the Brahmachari who took the trouble to type the few additions people had asked me to write for this new edition.
And this in the midst of all occupations and in spite of the difficulties my very bad hand-writing was to be for him.
When I proposed to ask someone to help him I was refused and I was made to understand that he wanted to do it as a labour of love for his Guru.
And as I write this last sentence a thought comes to me: This little book has been, from the start of its coming into life, into the hands of love.
First of all from the people who persevered in asking for it, from the different countries in the West and even sending letters to ask Swamiji to make me write it.
From Indian people themselves, and somehow, always from the most truly and sincerely spiritual ones.
I shall never forget the way, one day Brigadier Sabherwal stopped a convoy he was leading and came down from his turret, to ask me about the book.
When I told him I had not started it and did not feel capable of doing it, just the way he climbed up again into his turret without a word broke my heart, and back in my Kutir, I started to write and never stopped and was finally in time for the celebration of Swami Chidananda’s Diamond Jubilee (24th September, 1976).
I shall never forget how the Commander-in-Chief of Indian Army, General Raina, came with his wife and some of his staff “to meet the French Lady who had written ‘THIS MONK FROM INDIA’.”
When Swami Chidananda had told me about the General’s visit, I had proposed to go and meet him in Delhi, so as to save him the trouble of coming here with all display of security that it meant. He had refused and said “He wanted to honour the woman who had written This Monk From India’.”
I shall never forget how my apprehension at the idea of this big event that his visit was to be for all the Ashrams around here, how this apprehension vanished when I saw his simplicity, his sincerity, his directness and his humility.
I shall never forget his wife either. They were both so alike and it was such an unforgettable joy for me to meet them both.
I was so sorrowful to see them go and even as I write this my heart goes out to them both and to God who allowed me to meet such people, people who give one such faith in one’s fellowmen, and even bigger, one’s heart into God.
I shall never forget the Indian ladies who came to me in my Kutir.
They themselves had lost their son or daughter and they had only recovered their faith in God, their faith in an after life, just after reading the story of my son’s death and they came to tell me their joy.
The way they had had to travel sometimes three days in the most uncomfortable conditions just to come and thank me is something that ever moves me anew.
Sivanandashram, July, 1988.