This article is a chapter from the book Chidanandam: The Joy of Knowing ‘Him‘.
The Author was one of the few earliest disciples of Gurudev, whose contribution to Gurudev’s work and mission was so much that he was addressed as the Bismark of Divine Life Society. This was published as an introductory note by him in ‘Swami Chidananda — His Life and Work (Thirty-Ninth birthday Souvenir)’, who was then the Chairman, Chidananda Birthday Celebration Committee. This write-up gives preview of the high esteem everyone, devotees and gurubandhus, had for Sri Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj.
In Ananda Kutir, even a few of the important workers who are in charge of the Divine Life Society, Forest University and other major institutions, do not mix with others much. Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj has started hundreds of sections of work to suit the taste and temperament of various types of sadhakas; and the workers or inmates are too busy to move closely with one another. The real beauty in the method of work of Sri Gurudev is that hundreds of aspirants can come and stay in the Ashram for any period, and work in any of the departments without a hitch or misunderstanding. All the departments are inter-dependent and yet people can work independently to their capacity without any contact with anybody and maintain beautifully the peace of the Ashram and evolve nicely in sadhana of their own choice or collective sadhana, the daily routine of the Ashram. Only a person with great spiritual powers can run this mighty organisation with such a strange method and policy. What a dynamic personality! Sri Gurudev is able to watch the moods and temperaments of the people, give them suitable work and watch the progress in all sections. Thus he has made the Divine Mission as a powerful society of members devoted to the spiritual path, who work for the peace and prosperity of the whole world in a mysterious manner and satisfactorily devote their time to their own personal evolution.
This is the main reason why the inmates are not able to know the merits of each other fully. There is no chance for any to freely mix and move with others. All are extremely busy in their own field of service, as directed by Gurudev. Hence the 200 workers in the Ashram and the numerous visitors do not know Sri Swami Chidanandaji well. Many have no occasion to see him also for days and months. But I was very anxious to know how Swami Chidanandaji has become the most beloved disciple of Swami Sivanandaji and has been chosen for the most important offices as the General Secretary of the Divine Life Society and the Vice Chancellor of the Forest University.
The Master teaches his lessons and gives his advice for all persons in a uniform manner, takes great care of their health and spiritual progress, loves all and encourages them in any field that assures the individual’s spiritual evolution. He ignores the faults and defects in others and gives better chances for them to grow. I am sure that Gurudev has not given any special Magic Pill or secret initiation to Sri Swami Chidanandaji that enabled him to become the foremost among the thousands of disciples, Brahmacharis and Sannyasis.
The man who delivers fiery lectures ignores selfless service and cares not to give a cup of water to a dying person. The name of the Lord in japa and kirtan, produces headache for the selfless Karma Yogi. A Vedantin is ashamed to practise a few asanas and pranayamas for the maintenance of a high standard of health or to wear a japa mala around the neck. Persons who have read much in philosophy consider bhaktas as of the inferior type. A man of sadhana never cares for the society and the suffering humanity. Those who are devoted to any of these, never think of the welfare of Gurudev or the progress of the Divine Mission. Sri Swami Sivanandaji is a hard task master. He says that he is of the aggressive type to reform people. He wants that the aspirants should become adepts in all the above lines and also to dance and stage a play during spiritual conferences. Among thousands who have come in close contact with Gurudev, it is only Sri Swami Chidanandaji who has so far given perfect satisfaction to Gurudev by his sincere service in all the sections. So this is the main reason why Sri Swami Chidanandaji has become the central figure in the Ashram.
I have seen him feeding and serving cats, dogs and monkeys. Even when the Ashram is in a financial crisis he spends a lot in treating a sickly dog with costly injections. When hundreds of letters are waiting for reply, he will be giving upadesha to boys and girls of the locality and entertaining them with sweets, biscuits and fruits. Even when he fails to attend to his personal affair, he will be spending hours in satisfying a sick person or in admiring an insect or a lovely flower. In the midst of such distracting routine of work, he can give fiery lectures on any subject in the most convincing and impressive manner, in any language, sing melodious kirtans and transform even atheists and will not leave a person until the doubts are completely cleared and problems solved.
In his Kutir I have seen the pictures of Lord Jesus, Lord Buddha, Sankara and others besides Swami Sivanandaji’s. A close observation reveals that he has tremendous devotion to the Lotus Feet of the Master. The master’s word is LAW for him. Even for little things, he needs the Master’s orders. It is quite natural… some of the inmates desire to plunge themselves in deep sadhana in seclusion to obtain psychic powers, or to obtain name and fame through press and platform, to study scriptures for delivering powerful speeches or to become the secretary of the Society by controlling all the important sections of work. Some may plan to tour different parts of the land for collecting money from Sri Swami Sivanandaji’s disciples or to go on pilgrimage to Kailash or Badrinath or secretly work and gather necessary materials for starting a new Ashram. Some personal desires of the aspirants prevent the devotees from implicitly following the teachings of and deriving maximum spiritual benefit from the Master. But I find Sri Swami Chidanandaji never entertained such desires. He has no plan or scheme. He leads the life of a saint by silently following the teachings of the Master. Another striking point I have noticed is that he carries out all the orders of the Master, while we, many of the inmates of the Ashram, would accept and do the work only if we have a liking for the work.
Usually secretaries of all organisations, to maintain order, discipline, and carry out the normal work satisfactorily, sometimes have occasions to displease the Founder or the President, and in the Divine Life Society chances were many. Swami Chidanandaji, who has entirely depended on the Grace of the Master, has always carried out the orders of the Master to the letter and awaited his instructions on all matters or enjoyed fully by witnessing the lila of Master and the grace that worked miracles and wonder. This bhavana has helped him to work in the Divine Life Society in disinterested manner, to the perfect satisfaction of Gurudev and all the inmates of the Ashram and visitors. That is why he is the most beloved disciple of Gurudev.
I only feel that if I had even a thousandth part of Swami Chidanandji’s knowledge, capacity and devotion to the Lotus Feet of the Master, for all the years I have spent in close touch of the Master, I would have attained the position of the famous Trotakacharya. In order to share these secrets with all and to let sadhakas and devotees of Gurudev all over the world know more about the glorious life and work of Sri Swami Chidanandaji that these Birthday celebrations were arranged. Glory to Gurudev and His worthy disciple, the ideal model for all seekers after Truth!