The Faithful Apostle of Yoga-Vedanta
Sri Kavi-Yogi Shuddhananda Bharatiar
This article is from the book “An Apostle of India’s Spiritual Culture”.
The Faithful Apostle
March of the Times
THE large-hearted Sivananda during his last days listened to a melodious rendering of my magnum opus “The Bharata Shakti Maha-Kavyam”, the grand Epic of Superman. He gave it a brilliant preface, and remarked: “Bharata Shakti is the richest legacy you are leaving to humanity. You must translate it into English”. “Yes, I am preparing an English version of it and part of it was approved by Sri Aurobindo.” “Bring it out soon…” said Swamiji.
“If God wills” I said, and demanded of him, “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?”. Swamiji was serious for a few minutes. He saw his works piled before him. He heard the press working. Prayers were flowing from the temple. Shivananda Nagar, cradled in the music of the Ganga, was busy with multifarious activities…But all these could outlive him only if there was a dynamic follower who could take up the onerous responsibility after him. Sivananda opened his mind after deep thought. “Of course, Chidananda–He is the living legacy I leave behind me to carry on, after me, the mission of Divine Life.” But at that time Chidananda, Venkatesananda and others were not in the Ashram. “He is coming soon” said the Master. He did come; but his spirit of renunciation and God-love prevented him from undertaking any responsibility that would bind him down to worldly occupations.
He was resolved to go to Kedarnath for intense Tapasya. “I go” said he to the Master. The Master looked deep into his eyes and spoke seriously, “Chidananda, look here, it is for you that I have developed Shivanandanagar and you say now that you will leave all these and go away”. This stunning remark transformed the mind of the faithful disciple. “Let Thy Will be done” said he and remained by the side of the Master and the Master’s Soul entered into him and led him from victory to victory in his life dedicated to Divine Life. After the Mahasamadhi of Gurudev, Chidananda was elected President of The Divine Life Society by common consent.
The Faithful Apostle
The faithful apostle carried on the work of the Master victoriously from country to country, conference to conference. He spread the message of Yoga-Vedanta from home to home, soul to soul. He has enriched The Divine Life Society and brought it universal recognition.
I have presided over many conferences of The Divine Life Society and addressed more than thirty of them. I observe with wonder the enthusiasm of the public increasing more and more. The Divine Life Conferences serve as free public education and spontaneous spiritual-culture training.
I have travelled all over the world five times and wherever I went, I came by the books and pictures of Swami Sivananda and Chidananda, and friends who admired and adored them. The vision and mission of Master Sivananda have been amply fulfilled by Mahatma Chidananda. If at all the world knows something about Hindu Sanatana Dharma today the credit goes to The Divine Life Society; from Brahmajnana to bazar drugs, from how to realise the Self to how to enrich oneself, a plethora of knowledge and practical wisdom has been scattered all over the world by The Divine Life Society under the unostentatious leadership of Swami Chidanandaji. Sivananda’s disciples are the apostles of Yoga-Vedanta in every corner of the universe. Just like Asoka who sent abroad the missionaries of Buddhism, Sivananda blessed and sent his order of Sannyasins East and West, North and South, which he united in the vast horizon of his universal evangel.
Thus Sivananda is everywhere today and Chidananda is adored as the unique apostle and torch-bearer of Divine Life.
The conferences organised so fruitfully by Chidananda have created a spiritual stir and transformation, a Visva Rupantara. We are prompted to adore him as a Messiah of mass awakening. In conferences, he is the master-speaker and we serve as a parenthesis. He assimilates the thoughts of well-chosen saints that address the conference and delivers the message of his heart which is the throne of Gurudev Sivananda. Every Divine Life conference is a transforming force, a collective Sadhana, a la fois of Karma, Bhakti, Jnana, Hatha, Raja and Mantra Sadhanas. I am thankful to Swamiji for having given me the opportunity of addressing these conferences. Long live this messenger of spiritual culture! We give a vernal greeting to his 61st birthday and we wish to reverse the number and see him in the blooming health and vigour of eternal sixteen. Let the harp of his life feast us with entrancing rhythms of divine rhapsodies.
His face beams with the beauty of his heart and his heart shines with the love and light of his soul. His smile goes for miles and miles radiating peace and bliss.
For thirty-two years his life was a sincere dedication to the service of Sivananda. Dropping down his personality the impersonal Sivananda disappeared into the unknown beyond; but his spirit, his inner genius lives in the heart of Chidananda and fulfils in full today, in the actual life of humanity, what he wrote for humanity for so many decades. Sivananda chalked out the Gospel of divine existence and Chidananda sparks it out. Sivananda left a gap in the spiritual world and we are now glad that Mahatma Chidanandaji has nobly filled it. The spirit of the Master impels his heart and brain to dynamic world-wide Divine Life service. It equally impels other chosen instruments of the Master all over the world.
Shankara calls upon humanity to remember the Sivahood of souls beyond all mental notions of caste, creed, clime and language. The mission of Sivananda is equally universal, a cosmic-conscious mission. Now let us have a peep into the Divine Life mission of these great souls. What Vivekananda did after the passing away of Ramakrishna, Chidananda does after the Mahasamadhi of Sivananda.
“Ye children of immortality, ye divinities on earth, come up, o! lions!” called Vivekananda, “You are souls blessed and eternal. God is the sum total of souls”. In the same breath Chidananda declares, “Blessed immortal Atman, you are divine. It is your duty to realise the divinity within yourself and express in every-day life your divine nature”. Chidananda is a paragon of sainthood, a pure divine cosmic-soul, a practical idealist, a supreme exemplar of Yoga-Vedanta. Let us now study Yoga-Vedanta in tune with the Time Spirit.
March of the Times
Life is a rustling march of battling forces of good and bad. The forces of the Spirit and matter (Purusha and Prakriti) are opposing each other. Science is the material force of Nature. Yoga is the religious force of the Spirit. Science has advanced in nuclear dynamics and space technology. From Newton to Compton a series of discoveries of the laws of Nature has resulted today in atomic fission and fusion. Uranium thunders and ICBM onslaughts are threatening material creations with a colossal tragedy. Even the much vaunted space flight of cosmonauts is a prelude to space-fights endangering poor earth with blasts from the blue. I have seen the atom-bombed Hiroshima twice and the hideous sight of victims yet in hospitals. It is more frightful than earthquakes. The construction of years was laid to waste in a minute. What can man do beyond seismological recording of tremors? Man can measure but not change the pressure of invincible Nature. He is at a loss to reform and transform himself: see his politics verging towards perdition. See his family life resulting in scaring overpopulation and puny progenies unfit to stand the struggle for existence. Look around our schools. Education sleeps behind closed doors. Language problems stage ravaging wars. Behold the fanatic fits in the name of religion–which is always a divided house. Whither India? Whither humanity? A Saviour Force is the urgent need of today. The force is ready to manifest. The instrument must be prepared for reception by a transformation from within. This inner transformation is otherwise called Yoga. Saints today must train dynamic Yogins.
Scientists have made experiments in laboratories and revealed life-expanding truths. Our saints from their heart’s cave have brought out psychic truths and forces for the spiritual rebirth of humanity. Scientists have discovered atomic forces and saints Atmic forces. Scientists have enthused astronauts and our Yogins have created Atmonauts. A Yogin’s cosmic force is more powerful than the force generated from a plutonium plant. The cosmic consciousness of real Yogins can radiate to far off lands and transform minds. A Yogin sitting in his cave self-immersed can open the heart of thousands to self-awareness. He can bring about ecological and environmental changes for the better. If a thousand Yogins are united in inner communion with God, we can avert the thermonuclear holocaust threatening humanity today. This psychic work in the inner laboratory is called Yoga-Sadhana.
The world is like a space boat manned by a mysterious cosmonaut. We are a limited crew. The crew must obey the captain. The captain shall lead us to higher planes of peace and bliss if we surrender our ego to Him. You all know the story in the Kenopanishad where Indra, Vayu and Agni could not shake an atom of the Divine Spark. Uma, the Cosmic Force, reveals at last the might of the Supreme Divine who is the thinker in the brain and seer in the eyes and actor in the nerves. The silent Yogin with the Divine Spark aglow within, can redeem the human world from fear, ignorance, slavery and suffering. The rapacity of scientific war-mongers can be changed by the capacity of a self-gathered Yogin, established in untrammelled peace and inner harmony. I call upon you all to practise Yoga for the good of yourselves and the world. Come out of your narrow sectarian barricades and group prejudices and walled creeds and dogmatic forts. Follow the Divine Life.
Accept one God in the Self and lead humanity to live under His heavenly canopy as one family, knowing one another as the equal soul, loving and serving one another, and doing what is good for the world. O saints and Yogins, do not create new religions in your names. Lead mankind to God. Descend from your palanquins and pontific heights and condescend to bring the Gospel of the Soul to the common-all. See how the Christian Fathers are serving humanity; see how the Buddhist Bikhus are spreading their religion. See the faith of the Mullas for their religion. Our religion is losing ground–a religion which can very well provide a universal code of life. Christ came, Buddha came, Rasul came and Gandhi came; but the world is all the same. Why? Because group mentalities and personality cults, pontiffs and Pitams are standing between God and man and creating opposing camps. Religion hates religion; sect decries sect; Mathams hate Mathams. Man has become a slave to his narrow groove and an enemy of the brother man. This chapter of the divided mentality must end now and we must open a new page of harmony in our universal relationship.
Let us cultivate purity in thought, word and deed, unity by inner communion and let us cultivate love of God by cultivating pure love for mankind animated by compassion. Let us cultivate a good heart and blessed thoughts to counteract the poisonous effect of Asuric forces in the world.
Rest in God; trust in Truth; then you need not be afraid of atomic blasts. Rama is greater than bomb. O, they waste millions of hard-earned money in making nuclear weapons! O saints and Yogins of India, heap your Atmic balms, by Japa and meditation. Crores of Ramanama can counteract atom bombs. Be near God by inner communion. You need not fear man and his scandalous betrayal. Take shelter at the feet of God. His Grace shall protect you through thick and thin. Man’s vanity and self-willed arrogance take so many attractive shapes to divide soul from soul and souls from God. Yoga tries to unite all souls in God. Vedanta helps to realise God in the Soul.
Ordinary life is tied to the senses and the mind. It rambles in the forest of lust, greed and envy and suffers the slings and arrows of the obdurate Maya. To bring this life back to the natural home of the inner man and yoke the mind to the soul and the soul to God is Yoga. Vedanta is to realise that Self-God in us by silent contemplation and reflection. Vedanta begins where Yoga ends. Vedanta is beyond sectarian religions and personality cults which divine mankind out of recognition.
Divine Life is a polarity of Yoga-Vedanta. It is real Hinduism, verily INDOISM, introspection and Self-realisation. Yoga leads you step by step like a motherly nurse to the portals of the Self which is God in man. Moral purity, devotion to God, steady pose, breath-control, ingathering and fixing the mind and Self-finding are disciplines in Yoga. Vedanta begins with the enquiry “Who am I? Koham?” and ends with the answer ‘I am I, the Self. Soham“. Self is the Divine in man. To be Self-conscious is the living symbol of inner realisation. It is to live in the Truth and be the Truth or Sat and know the non-self as Asat. Yoga liberates the mind from the illusion of phenomenon; Vedanta establishes the mind in the Noumenon, and says “I am That”. One is the means and the other is the end. Yoga is like the bees that seek flowers for honey. Vedanta is like the bee that settles in the heart of the flower and enjoys the honey of Self-bliss. Yoga-Vedanta is a perfect synthesis of life in the purity, unity and divinity of Self-identity with the God-in-man. It raises the human life to the hierarchy of freedom from all bondages. It establishes man in his natural state of Self-knowledge and Self-bliss. Yoga prepares you for the examination and Vedanta answers the question of life.
Yoga-Vedanta is the present term of Universal Religion. Just as pitch-blend yields radium and uranium yields atomic energy by a series of mechanical processes, the mind of moods and modes reveals the psychic Spirit by a series of patient inner works. The body and the nerves are trained by Asanas and Pranayamas. The mind is conquered by meditation. Egoism is removed by surrender and service. The heart is opened by psychic devotion. Concentration is cultivated by Japa. Take any practice and do it like a painter who lives at the point of his brush. The Divine Current manifests itself in any heart that is pure and prepared. Take to any known line; Man, the unknown, shall reveal himself.
Meditation is the fulcrum of Yoga and inner reflection the central point of Vedanta. Pure life and disciplined living, a strong body and a clear mind are needed for meditation and concentration. The sixfold virtues of Sama (mind-control), Dama (sense-control), Uparati (cessation from attachments), Titiksha (endurance of heat and cold, pain and pleasure, blame and fame etc.), Sraddha (faith and sincerity) and Samadhana (constant effort to get inner equilibrium) lead one to self-reflection. Then one knows what is right and what is wrong, what is lasting and what is evanescent. He then attaches himself to the Eternal Truth in all. Then he is liberated and he feels the bliss of spiritual freedom and attains the real Svarajya and Samrajya. Self-finding is the crown of Yoga and Self-being the aim of Vedanta. Purity, unity and divinity are the threefold Sadhanas towards the attainment of GODHOOD which is the goal of all religions, Yogas and philosophies.
Yoga-Vedanta is for all nations, for all humanity. Leave off all the apparent differences and come together, walk together, think together and realise together and live an equal divinised life to serve, love, meditate, realise and enjoy cosmic bliss. This is the vision and mission of Yoga-Vedanta promulgated by The Divine Life Society under the sage-guidance of our beloved Swamiji. Prosper all under its banner.