Life with a mission
(BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF P.P. SWAMI SRI CHETANANANDA SARASWATI)
Param Poojya Shri Gurudev was born in a noble, religious and royal family in southern India. HE was born by the grace of Baba Nityananda, who brought HIM to HIS parents just as Krishna was brought to Gokul. HIS childhood was more like that of Lord Krishna, surrounded by enemies and dangers. Brought up in the opulence of palaces, HE used to be served with an array of dishes and sweets every day. Yet, out of utensils made of gold and silver, HE would prefer to eat just boiled gram, the diet of the poorest of people.
P.P. Sri Gurudev's Self Realization at the age of 5:
P.P Swamiji has experienced Self-Realisation at the tender age of 5. HE saw an ocean, on which thousands of little Krishnas were dancing, telling HIM that this entire world is just a drama created by God. HE cried for a whole day and a night, sad that all these relations of father, mother and so on, really meant nothing. In the morning, HE saw a large, round, luminous yellow light outside HIS window. HE could see two myna birds and one of them asked the other, "What is this?". The male bird replied, "This is the 'Sarva Vyapta Aatma Jyoti' "(the light of the Self that pervades everywhere). And both of them flew off. This was liberation, and much later HE would find its proof in the scriptures." This momentous event took place almost sixty years ago, on the full moon night of the month of Shravan, the day Raksha Bandhan is celebrated (usually in August).
P.P. Swamiji's childhood:
Even as a child, Swamiji was multi talented and was a leader to all HIS friends. HE never fell in doubt as to what to do, what not to do; what was right and what was not. Parties used to be held at the palace, and wine used to come in crates. HE never looked upon them as evil, but just ignored it all. Having experienced self-realisation as a child, HE used to just climb up to the third floor of the palace and meditate, even though HE did not know what the word "meditation" meant.
HE started writing and organizing plays with other children. HIS parents were increasingly concerned about HIS "unusual" activities. As a school-going child, HE could play all musical instruments, and was the leader of the Musical Band. Once, after returning from a long march heading the Band, wielding a massive baton, HE forgot to take off HIS heavy boots before stepping into the house. Seeing this, HIS grandmother rebuked HIM very strongly. In a fit of anger, HE took off the boots and threw them at her face (breaking a couple of teeth!). Disturbed by such acts of HIS, HIS parents decided to send HIM to the family Guru, Baba Nityananda. This was in 1959, and HE was eleven years old.
P.P.Swamiji's meeting with Bhagawan Nityananda:
When Swamiji was taken in princely clothes to Baba Nityananda, baba said "Send that beggar here”. Guessing that baba meant HIM, Swamiji jumped up and sat on BABA's lap. HE felt great happiness, sitting there in Baba?s lap, before a crowd of 12,000 people, which included HIS parents. But the very next moment, Baba threw HIM off saying, “Do you think this is your throne?” In just one moment, HIS utter joy was transformed to utter shame and sorrow. Such is the Guru?s drama! He then called and soothed HIM (since HE was crying) and gave HIM a sweet. Even though HE used to be served eight kinds of sweets daily in the palace, HE went wild on tasting the one Baba gave HIM, and HE started running after Baba, asking for more. Baba had hidden the box of sweets behind Him. Finally, He threw the box at HIM, saying, “Take it, you beggar!” Though HE felt slighted, HE couldn’t resist the sweets. HE finished off those sweets and went into a trance. “People say that Baba murmured, “He has been begging for it for sixteen births!” In that trance HE had a vision of HIS past sixteen births. HE regained HIS senses after two hours, and by then the crowds had dispersed. One can see a parallel here with Swami Vivekananda who went into trance for a long time when Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa touched HIM. Swamiji kept on crying, sad that Baba had to come to this earth so many times to redeem a sinner like HIM. Over the next 15 days of HIS stay at Baba's ashram, HE had experiences that could fill volumes.
Swamiji's experience of meeting Baba was `extremely powerful and Swamiji used to implicitly follow Baba in all HIS activities, right from getting up at 3Am and taking bath in hot springs there. Nobody got this rare opportunity of staying with Baba all the time for such a long time (15 days). Had HE been older than 11 years old, HE would have been sent away by Baba. During HIS stay there, Swamiji was shown by Baba how HE was following HIM for the last sixteen births. Swamiji had realized that HE will not be getting another opportunity and HE couldn't afford to lose Guru's grace in this birth. This realization propelled HIM to take sanyas at a young age. Thus from knowledge (gyan), Swamiji has achieved renunciation (Vairagya). During this stay, Swamiji had first meeting with Muktananda Baba. Bhagwan introduced Muktananda Baba to Swamiji and said, "He is a Paramahansa. You should serve Him after You return from the Himalayas". After 15 days, Swamiji was told by Baba to go and serve the country.
Selfless Social service to the motherland:
For the next 12 years HE devoted Himself to selfless service as a social worker, fighting the hidden evils of the nation, ever mindful to stay away from name and fame.
As a boy of twelve or so, HE visited Tibet and had darshan of Mount Kailas. HE met a Tibetan monk named Bhaskarananda, who showed HIM Tibetan manuscripts describing the experiences that HE had after meeting Baba Nityananda. Bhaskarananda used to stay just 5 kilometres from Kailas. He carried Swamiji around the holy mountain on his shoulders. Swamiji had darshan of Lord Shiva and Parvati. All the fabled places described in the scriptures are on this earth itself.
In 1962, during the war with China, HE was the first to contribute to the Defence Fund. The then President, Dr. Radhakrishnan called Swamiji to meet him. HE did relief work as a social worker after the Koyna earthquake and the Andhra cyclone in 1960s and participated in the wars of 1965 and 1971. During the 1971 war, India had only 3 MiG aircrafts, one of which HE flew and the other two were flown by the Raja of Sirohi and his son. HE built the Vivekananda Rock Memorial at Kanyakumari in 1971, at grave personal risk. Between 1959 and 1969, HE was studying, but not much in school. Later, on HIS own, HE studied the works of Vivekananda, Ramtirtha and others. HE gained general knowledge from plays, etc.
Between 1959 and 1971, Swamiji did wide variety of activities like painting, journalism, printing, construction, theatre. Even in movies, HE has acted, composed music, and also sung. HE flew fighter planes, controlled traffic in big cities (Delhi) during war period. HE has done everything, but HE never made any of these occupations a means of living by commercializing them.
Revelation from Mother Kanyakumari:
In 1971, Mother Kanyakumari revealed Herself to Param Poojya Gurudev. HIS mode of rendering service changed according to Her instructions. From the southernmost tip of India, HE walked to the Himalayas, inspiring people and creating an awareness about Mother Kundalini. Even today HE serves HIS disciples through the ancient process of Shaktipat, lighting up their lives with the bliss of their own inner Self.
For the next six years, Param Poojya Gurudev did intense penance, first in the Himalayas and then on the banks of the Narmada river in Western India. In 1972 (after returning from the Himalayas), the heads of 52 Universities from around the world came and took HIM in a chartered flight to various Universities. All this while, HE maintained silence (mouna). Carnegie Hall in New York was filled to its capacity of 10,000 from 3 AM, and all the while Swamiji did not even utter a word, while another professor lectured. Yet, every single person present there had darshan of Baba Nityananda. Two years later, when Baba Muktananda went on His world tour in 1974, many people came and told Him that they had seen His Guru. He told them that the one who had shown them was His own disciple!
By HIS grace, HE initiated literally lakhs of people into Siddha Yoga and made them realize the glory of their own Self. All this was acheived not through speeches or discourses, but the power of silence. He conducted numerous Siddha Meditation Intensives, where people were blessed with Shaktipat by HIS divine grace. All this was without any fee, and open to all seekers. Thus HE initiated a practical, worldwide Siddha Yoga movement.
In 1972, Swamiji had travelled to Haridwar, where HE delivered several lectures over 15 days. These were later edited and published by a professor of Punjab University as the book Reminiscences. 11 lakh copies of the book were published, each in four languages, which were all sold out within just four months.
From Haridwar, Swamiji went up to Rishikesh and then onward to Gomukh. There, HIS body underwent kayakalpa (transformation). The body was totally renewed: skin, nails, etc. The whole process took place naturally over 21 days. In this procedure, if the prana does not leave the body within 21 days, then another long life is obtained.
After this kayakalpa in 1972, HE came down to Shivanand Ashram in Rishikesh, where HIS health gradually recovered. Thereafter HE flew to Bombay (now Mumbai), and then went to Baba Muktananda’s ashram at Ganeshpuri".
Stay in Ganeshpuri with Baba Muktananda:
As per Bahagwan's instructions, HE subsequently joined Baba Muktananda on 9 June 1973 and served as Administrator in the then Sri Gurudev Ashram of Ganeshpuri. Muktananda Baba used to set timings for job completion, one after another. Swamiji drew up plans for all ashrams of Muktananda baba and got them built all over the country and the world. Swamiji used to spend 8 hours in various spiritual activities like chanting and meditation in addition to carrying out loads of administrative duties for various activities of the ashram. During all this, HE found time to go to Mt. Abu, Girnar and other places for sadhana.
In 1977, Swami Chetanananda was the first disciple to receive Sanyas Deeksha from Swami Muktananda Paramahansa at Ganeshpuri. This was the formal initiation into Sanyas: the final stage of renunciation. Thus, Sri Gurudev carries with HIM the full blessings of both the great Siddhas of this century: Bhagwan Nityananda and Swami Muktananda.
Intense penance on the banks of river Narmada between 1973 and 1979:
Param Poojya Sri Gurudev returned to Ganeshpuri in 1973 June 9 from Himalayas. HE served at Sri Gurudev Ashram for 6 months and stayed on the banks of river Narmada for 6 years. In this period, HE was visiting Sri Gurudev Ashram thrice in a year as per the wishes of Baba Muktananda. In between this, in 1977 Baba asked HIM to embrace sanyaas. It was Baba Muktananda’s Jayanti in 1977, a huge ‘yajna mantap’ was built and the sanyaas initiation was performed in a grand manner. HE was the first in the list of sanyaasis. Along with HIM there were 8 Indians and 8 foreigners who accepted Sanyaas.
In 1980, April HE came to South India for the propagation of Siddha Yoga, as per the order of Baba Muktananda.
During HIS sadhana, HE had darshan of Nava Durga. This normally requires nine bodies (births). HIS guru for this sadhana who lived in the forests of Katni (near Jabalapur) took nine lives to have this darshan, but Swamiji saw them in just nine months. The sadhana involves prayers to Ma Kali in the cremation ground between 12 and 3 AM every night, for 21 days. On the final night, Ma Durga appears and asks what you wish for. One should say: “Only for Your darshan”, or else the other Shaktis will not appear. The entire sadhana is then repeated for the nine forms of Durga. This sadhana is very frightening, with lots of happenings all around, but one should not get scared and maintain your concentration. After one sees all this, there is no rebirth. This sadhana is necessary for those who become Gurus. After this, Swamiji went to Mount Abu and then to Himalayas.
While in Abu, Swamiji was staying on a hill top, keeping cow for milk. The devotees were visiting with their gunmen for security. One day a wild tiger came there and all of them ran off. Swamiji held Ganga, the cow, on one side and the tiger on the other, and remarked, “Different beings joined by the same aatma”. HE even made them drink water from the same bowl. Then, HE asked the tiger to leave and it went peacefully.
Gist of P.P.Gurudev’s teachings:
Merely being in Param Poojya Gurudev's presence, one experiences HIS radiance and discovers a deep sense of peace and satisfaction, never felt before. HIS bountiful love towards all who approach HIM truly grants them a sense of inner happiness. HE is totally at ease with different kinds of people and treats one and all with the same divine oneness. One of His main teachings is to "Be Natural". He says:"Do not try to become something, thus limiting yourself. Remember, the expanse of the sky is there for you, within you. Inside you, lay a treasure of pure bliss. You just have to look within, through meditation. Liberation shall surely be yours: the only requisites are faith and devotion to the Guru, and a pure, disciplined life”.