Swami Chidananda’s Letter to Devotees (April ’99)
To all members of the Divine Life Society, Worldwide
Blessed friend in Divine living,
Peace be unto you. Peace and joy of the blissful divine being dwelling within you and making your physical body a moving temple to his living DIVINE PRESENCE. Eternal greetings and good wishes to one and all of you in this, my third Internet letter. In order to acquaint you briefly with the activities of Swami Chidananda during the time that has elapsed since the previous Internet letter, i.e. the second letter, he proposes here to take you upon a short armchair travelogue by giving you a resume of the March 99 travel of its first 9 days within India and then from the 10th March midnight flight to Malaysia from Madras airport and the Malaysian itinerary commencing from Wednesday 11th March extending up to Friday 9th April when I depart Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for, Australia for the inauguration and consecration of the Hindu temple at Canberra, on Sunday 18th April.
It will not be out of place to mention here that my usual winter tour within India was from 6th January and extended up to 23rd February when I returned to Ashram. My stay at the Ashram was just 6 days. I departed the Ashram by 28th February night train to arrive in Delhi on the 1st of March. The same evening I reached Hyderabad to be present and to participate in the Golden Wedding Anniversary of Sri Krishnamurthyji and Smt Subamma Krishnamurthy who completed 50 years of their life of partnership in the grihasthashrama on Tuesday, 2nd March. After staying a day more in their loving hospitality, myself and Brahmachari Sharanagata Chaitanya had to leave for Ahmedabad, Gujarat by a non-stop flight from Hyderabad to Ahmedabad airport. This was in response to the very earnest request of Sri Shreyas Pandya of Sahitya Mudranalaya for my presence at the auspicious wedding ceremony of his second daughter Meghna on 5th March, midday, to bless the newly wed couple. The same day, a few hours after midnight, I took the return flight back to Hyderabad reaching on 6th forenoon. That evening the local Ramakrishna Math of Hyderabad had organised a very big public meeting for people to receive the blessings of the most venerable H.H Sri Swami Ranganathanandaji Maharaj who had come from Belur Math, Calcutta on a visit to the twin cities. I was overjoyed and deemed myself most fortunate to have this occasion of the darshan of Revered Swamiji and the wonderful opportunity of spending a few hours with him that evening. He was to have a very big civic reception by a citizens committee specially formed for that purpose, the next day, Sunday 7th March. However, I had to leave Hyderabad Sunday night for Bangalore where I stayed overnight with Sri M.L. Sharmaji, my usual host in Bangalore. This visit was at the special request of Smt. Rama Mataji of the Viswashanti Ashram in Nelamangala near Bangalore. Smt Rama Mataji is the wife of late Sadguru Sant Keshavdasji Maharaj of sacred memory. She has been shouldering the responsibility of the task of looking after this well known ashrama since the departure of late Sant Keshavdasji. Revered Mataji had consecrated a new temple of Divine Mother Ashtabhuja Durga Devi seated upon her lion vehicle. The late Sant Keshavadasji had got this beautiful marble Vigraha prepared, intending to build and consecrate the Divine Mothers temple himself. But, unfortunately he could not, due to his sudden departure. Revered Rama Mataji first took me to the new Durga temple and later gave me a general tour of all the important places within the Ashrama including the Sacred Samadhi of Sant Keshavadasji. I was happy to do so having known them both for long many years. After a simple lunch and brief rest we shifted to the home of Mr. Ron, a local advocate of my acquaintance. Night halt was at Mr. Rons home. His elder son Arun is very courageous and bold Himalayan trekker with an adventurous spirit. He has done the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra all by himself without anyones help. The younger son Kiran has taken a degree in law and his father Mr. Ron is preparing him to gradually take over his practice in the not too distant future.
Very early morning the next day, Sharanagat Brahmachari and myself boarded a flight for Madras and after 45 minutes flight arrived there in the early forenoon. A meeting of the board of Trustees of the Swami Sivananda Memorial Trust was scheduled that day. Towards the later part of the forenoon I joined in the meeting after the others had gone through the preliminaries like reading the minutes of the previous meeting and discussing matters arising out of the previous meetings.
It was a very satisfactory meeting on this occasion because the board was fully represented with Sri Sridhar Bhattji coming over from Bangalore, Sri Ramaswamiji attending in-spite of his delicate health and with both Smt Mohini Mataji as well as Abha Mataji present from Bombay. Mr Iyer, our agricultural expert was also to have attended but had to cancel his bookings at the last moment due to a sudden unforeseen bereavement in his brothers family. He had however drawn up a thorough report based upon two of his previous visits to the coconut farm. Sri S. Bhatt had brought the report along with him after very kindly taking several photocopies of it to make it available to all the members. Sri K. Arumugam, secretary of Pattamadai DLS could not attend due to inability to obtain booking on the only train available. It was a good meeting with gainful discussions and necessary decisions taken.
Next day on Wednesday the 10th I visited the branch centre of the Bihar School of Yoga of Monghyr (Bihar). It is named Shiv Darshan Yoga Vidyalaya as there is a shrine dedicated to Lord Siva in the Yoga Vidyalaya. This visit was in fulfilment of a long cherished desire of the dedicated disciples of Paramahamsa Satyananda Avadhoot who are managing the Vidyalaya. It was a matter of satisfaction to see the excellent arrangement and the facilities provided therein for the students of yoga and meditation. That same night Sri K.K. Sood and Smt. Renu Sood drove me to the Madras International Airport to board my flight for Kuala Lumpur where I arrived on 11th of March early morning landing at the very big brand new Sepang International Airport of Malaysia. It is a real show piece vying to match the best of such airports in other great International capitals of the west.
My first four days programmes were all at the Divine Life Society Malaysia Branch Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur. Hence from 11th to 14th I stayed at Batu Caves Sivanandashram itself. The four days featured the Youth Symposium, Opening of New extension building, Swami Pranavananda memorial Lecture and evening satsang etc. The central purpose of this 1999 visit was to perform the inauguration of a number of new prayer hall buildings that had been constructed by several of our DLS sub branches. They had all decided that their new buildings will be inaugurated only by Swami Chidananda as the President of the International Divine Life Society Headquarters, Sivanandashram, Rishikesh. They had kept pending all their opening ceremonies awaiting my arrival in Malaysia.
The first such ceremony was conducted in Malacca, an important city. On the 15th the opening of the new building of the Malacca sub branch was conducted and the ceremony of consecration was done through a nice and appropriate function. There was a programme in the newly opened building on the next day i.e. Tuesday 16th March and also a public programme that evening in the Gujarati Sangh. The opening and consecration of the new building of the Port Klang DLS sub branch was done on Thursday, 18th March. On Saturday 20th March 99 we had a meeting of all the Clinic volunteer workers in the upstairs lecture theatre of the newly opened extension block at the Batu Caves Sivanandashram.
Next day we drove to Kuala Kubu Bahru an hour away and laid the foundation stone for their new building which is to come up soon. After this, Sri Swami Guhabhaktanandaji had kindly arranged for a 3 day rest period in a cool place on a higher altitude called Genting Highlands. A highlight of this 3 day rest period was a visit to a great meditating figure of Lord Buddha more than 100 feet in height and to three chinese Buddhist shrines. Buddha in some of his other incarnations was depicted in a series of stone figures arranged along the side of a gentle sloping ramp leading up to the curved stairway to the Buddha statue. Very interesting! I had to do a great deal of walking up and down stairways and was quite fatigued. But, due to the cool and crisp air and heart uplifting darshan of Dhyana Buddha, the fatigue was soon overcome. At Genting Highlands our stay was arranged in the 28th floor suite of the posh Genting Highlands five star hotel, named the Awana Hotel. For this facility I am most grateful to Major Vijay, a retired army man who is the chief security officer of this hotel. God bless him and his wife, Mrs Vijay. Coming down from this much needed rest period we observed Holy Sri Ram Navami at Sivanandashram, Batu Caves on Thursday 25th. We left by car Saturday 27th morning for a another consecration of the new building at Ipoh and Lahat. To attend these various progammes we had to drive through several kms of rubber plantation Roads lined on both sides by seemingly never ending rows of rubber trees extending as far as the eye can reach. All these trees were tapped for rubber that trickles down in the form of a thick whitish, exhudation from gash made in the trunk of the tree. Returning to Kuala Lumpur we left for Penang by flight on 30th March and performed the inauguration and consecration of their new building. At Penang the public programme was in the spacious hall of the local Ramakrishna Ashram whose extensive estate contains residential quarters, a big students hostel, a special shrine dedicated to Holy Mother Sarada Devi and also a library. Sri Nityanandan, the chairman of the Penang sub branch had made all the arrangements. The gracious Dato Tharmaratnam and his wife were our kind hosts at Penang. We drove over to the nearby town of Prai for the consecration of the Prai Ashram on April 1st. Here our hosts were Mr. Siva and his wife Smt.(Dr.)Siva who is a medical doctor in a very huge and vast Hospital Complex run by the Malaysian Central Govt. There was an evening public programme the next day. We left for our last halt, the rubber estate village of Sungei Karangan next morning and performed the consecration of their new building declaring it open on Saturday 3rd April. We stayed with the chairman of the sub-branch Mr.K.Krishnan. There was a public programme the next day. We drove back to Penang airport on Monday 5th April and boarding a return flight arrived at Malaysian headquarters Batu Caves Sivanandashram in the afternoon.
The Mahasamadhi Anniversary of H.H. Sri Swami Pranavanandaji Maharaj was observed that evening during the well attended satsang in the main prayer hall. The very next day featured the final important programme of the DLS Malaysia Branch namely, the launching of Youth Movement. This took place at 7.30 p.m. on Tuesday 6th April. This was an interesting coincidence, seeing that the very first important programme upon my arrival in Malaysia was the Youth Symposium on Moral and Ethical Excellence, that was conducted as a full day programme from 8.30 am to 5 p.m. on Sunday, 14th March. During the above programme of the launching of the youth movement the young people had prepared a most interesting Multimedia presentation which was very much admired by the packed audience present in the hall that evening.
The youth is the world of tomorrow. Therefore, it is befitting as we are moving towards the advent of the 21st century, the emphasis is given upon tomorrows world. When we are referring to tomorrows world and to the 21st century, our mind naturally tends to dwell upon todays world and upon what the present 20th century has bestowed upon mankind and what lesson it has contained for the human family. It has been a strange and difficult-to-comprehend mixture of the highest sublimity as well as the most wretched deprivity. In its very first quarter, it spawned a four-year long warfare among several nations starting with hostilities between England and Germany. Brutal human carnage in prolonged trench warfare amidst hellish conditions was witnessed by the western world. Whatever progress in scientific technology could then contribute in this mutual mass murder undertaking, it contributed. Rifles, artillery, tanks, armoured cars, and in the sea, battleships and submarines. Killing became the most important thing to do! What price civilisation? What IS civilisation? Where is civilisation to be found? Inside man or outside man? What is progress? What are the signs of progress? Is the 20th century human race really civilised and progressive? What are the signs of a truly civilised person? What is the relationship between scientific progress and human culture? These are questions that we must answer honestly. They are staring us in the face. We cannot close our eyes. We cannot turn our face aside and look elsewhere. This first war, was soon followed by a second world war having Adolf Hitler as its centrepiece of the then European political situation. The world knows the Holocaust that took place under his orders. The scar and trauma of this terrible happening will take a long time to heal and be forgotten. This shows that man can become demonically inhuman when one is not guided by ethical ideas and moral principles.
There is another side to this picture. 20th century has seen great men and women utterly selfless and embodiment of compassion, who have left for us a lofty example for our next generation, to live in a truly civilised manner. Our present century have been graced by persons like Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Schwitzer, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King senior and junior, Acharya Vinoba Bhave, Holy Master Swami Sivananda, Sadhu T.L. Vaswani, Captain Cheshire, the Peace Pilgrim of America etc. to mention some of them. They have shown us to what sublime heights human nature can reach. Thus we have the negative side and the positive side in this human world. The task before us now and tomorrow is to do all that we can to replace the negative by the positive. We must strive to discard the lower life for the higher life. We must rise up from the unspiritual into the spiritual. Hold aloft the ideal of selflessly living for others by rejecting the downward pull of selfish, self-centred living. Emphasise benign and creative unity instead of dire destructive disunity. Work for universal brotherhood and world peace. Work as though this task depends upon you. But pray to the Almighty Lord to make you an instrument of his love, harmony and peace.
As we move towards the 21st century and the new millennium we must give prime priority to this world altering service just indicated through the foregoing varied aspects of our blessed duties towards the human family which has endured much travail and suffering. It deserves a liberating new experience as it moves into the new world being aspired after and being planned by noble hearts and minds moved by deep human concern. Let that day dawn. Let us salute the rising sun. Let the light shine. Let joy herald this advent. May mankind rejoice. Om Om Om!