An Embodiment of Supreme Love and Selfless Service
Sri Swami Yajnavalkyananda
This article is a chapter from the book Chidanandam: The Joy of Knowing ‘Him’.
This was a talk delivered on one of the Birthday felicitations of Sri Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj
We have assembled here to felicitate our Revered Gurudev’s dear disciple. Suppose someone was to ask a child, “What is God like, can you tell me?” What would that child say? Similarly what can I say about Swamiji Chidanandaji Maharaj? Despite knowing that every attempt will go futile, I’ll try to share a few things about Worshipful Swamiji.
Many years ago, we were sitting with Gurudev in his Kutir having tea. It was about four in the evening, and there was no light in the Kutir. We could see Swami Chidananda going towards the Ghat for Ganga bath. Do you know what he was wearing? A single cloth to bathe in and one to wear after bath. Gurudev then asked me, “Doctorji, do you know this man?” I said, “Swamiji, you are making fun of me! Who in the Ashram does not know Swami Chidananda?” Swamiji closed his eyes for a minute and said, “No, no, you don’t know him; hardly anybody knows him. He is too great to be within the limits of conception for any one of you. Your mind will never be able to conceive his greatness; so great a man is he! But I have come here to make preparations for him.” These were the words spoken by Gurudev somewhere in 1956 or 1957.
Swamiji was unanimously appointed President after the Mahasamadhi of Gurudev. During the following Sivaratri, his first as President, I asked Swamiji if he would like to go to Nilakanth Mahadev Temple. As it was two or three days before Sivaratri, he agreed. He asked me to go by the long route and said that he would come after some time. So we started early morning and reached there by 12 o’ clock; by that time Swamiji also arrived. It was very cold, as it usually is during Sivaratri. We spent the night there, and early in the morning Swamiji asked, “Should we have a bath?” I said, “Swamiji, it is very cold, so let us go back to the Ashram and take a bath there.” He did not say anything. Within half an hour Swamiji had taken a bath and as he passed us, he had a smile on his face. This gave us the motivation and the strength and we too went for a bath after which we made arrangements for lunch. There was a person who looked after the sweeping and cleaning of the temple; he was standing outside. Swamiji asked me how much money I had in my pocket. I put whatever I had in a dish. Swamiji went outside and put that dish in front of him and prostrated before him. When he came back he told me, “He is such a great Sadhak!”
On another occasion, we were visiting the Ashram and putting up at Parvati Kutir. One day, while we were sitting there, Swamiji passed by and smiled. He usually went for a walk in the afternoon, and I knew that he did not like anybody accompanying him, so I remained silent. After about half an hour he came back and said, “Doctorji, shall we go for a walk?” I thought that he may want to talk to me or have some other work, so I agreed to accompany him. As we reached the main road, I saw that a rather big white dog had been knocked down by a truck. Swamiji had already taken him to the side of the road, put water over him and had made a line of stones so that he is not run over again. Only after that, he had come to call me. He had already sent someone to call Nagarajanji (Swami Vimalanandaji) who was working as his secretary. The dog was still alive, but its back was broken and it could not move. I told Swamiji that I was a doctor for people and did not know how to treat a dog and since the dog was seriously injured, we should consult a veterinary surgeon. Meanwhile, Nagarajanji arrived; Swamiji had instructed him to bring all the milk he had in his room. He fed the milk to the dog and said, “Nagarajanji, we must move the dog to a veterinary hospital.” Nagarajanji told him that veterinary hospitals do not admit stray dogs. Swamiji said, “Tell them that this is Swamiji’s personal dog and all expenses will be borne by him.” The dog died the next day, but that is incidental. It gives us a glimpse of Swamiji’s heart and character.
I would like to narrate one last incident. The Board of Trustees had unanimously elected Swamiji as the President of The Divine Life Society in the year 1963. But Swamiji said that he needed the approval of Lord Kedarnath. “I need to finalize this decision at the feet of Lord Kedarnath,” he told me. So he went to Kedarnath and came back; and no one in the Ashram knew what happened there. After sometime, I was part of a party that was to go on yatra to Badrinath and Kedarnath. I requested Swamiji to give us a message on tape that we could play every morning, so that people would be energized and motivated. He asked me to leave my tape recorder with him as he would record the message later on, which he did. We played the cassette on our way. Over and above all his inspiring advice, one statement captured my attention: “At Kedarnath there is one Mr. Tiwari. He has served this body very well; stay with him.” That is all he mentioned. When we reached Kedarnath, we searched for this man and made arrangements to stay with him. I asked him as to why Swamiji had mentioned him. He said that he did not know. After thinking for a while, he said that sometime back a sannyasin had come. He had come late, the pooja was already over and everybody had retired. Since the poojaari had some work, so he had gone out, torch in hand. “With that torchlight. I could see somebody sitting there. It was snowing; after I had removed the snow, I realized that it was a sannyasin. With great difficulty I took him to my house and nursed him. The next day he left. He did not say who he was, but I could see his firmness, his suffering and his desire to be at the feet of Kedarnath!”
There are many such incidents, and each one gives us some idea about Swamiji’s greatness! That’s all.