My Beloved teacher and Guru: what He means to me.
Swami Chinmayananda is considered in India to be one of the greatest social reformers and a prolific master in the spiritual tradition of Vedanta. When I met Him at a young age of fourteen, I was captivated by His vibrant personality and His eloquence as a speaker, but most of all I was touched by His gentle loving eyes which saw through everything on the surface and knew how to love me unconditionally!
It is impossible to express what I feel after serving and being close to Him for twenty years of my life, but I can definitively say that he inspired me to dedicate my life sharing the spiritual knowledge and love that he infused within me. I will attempt to write a bit about His work and contribution to the world. Swami Chinmayananda began his study of Vedanta as a skeptic, bringing with him secular knowledge.
He was a double major- English Literature and Law and came from an imminent south Indian Kerala family. After receiving his sanyasa (order of a monk) from Swami Shivananda of Rishikesh, he went to the Himalayan Mountains and studied with the renowned master, Swami Tapovan for many years. Unable to contain his irrepressible urge to share this wealth of spiritual knowledge he returned to the world to guide and serve mankind.
Through his untiring efforts Swamiji managed to revive the Indian culture and make the people aware of their own heritage and scripture, which had been distorted and lost because of centuries of foreign rule.
He interpreted the ancients’ texts in a contemporary context and showed the people a new way to live spirituality in their day to day life. He is often compared to Adi Sankararcharya, the greatest exponent of Vedanta (790-820 A.D.), who brought about a spiritual revival in India. From 1951 to 1993 Swami Chinmayananda worked to serve humanity. From the platform of Bhagavad Gita and Upanishad lectures (sacred texts in India), he motivated countless people all over the world to life the higher values of life as found in the scriptures, but without blind submission to their words. He encouraged us to reflect, analyze and bring our love and heart to these universal truths and make them our own.
I remember he used to often say even in his lectures to an audience of 8 or 10,000 people in India, “Don’t just believe what I say, but test it for yourself. The longer the beard, the more should be your suspicion!”
Swamiji lectured widely in India and in other countries. He held many camps, seminars and talks or yagnas as he called them, at many universities such as Harvard, Cornell, Stanford, and Berkeley. He was the head of Chinmaya Mission, a worldwide organization, through which he taught Vedanta and started countless cultural, educational, social -service projects and established centers all over the globe where people can grow spiritually through study and activities which involve their entire family. He also founded academies of Vedantic knowledge in which the ancient wisdom of Vedanta is imparted with traditional thoroughness in Sanskrit, English and Indian regional languages. He wrote over thirty books and many of his lectures are on audio and video.
My own experience with Him enriched my life in numerous ways. I loved Him like a father; I studied scripture with Him as a student and most of all I trained as a spiritual worker under his sharp intellect, kind- loving nature and impeccable style of perfection in every sphere. I observed how He dealt with every facet of running a spiritual organization without compromising the essence of the teaching and the emphasis to individual self-growth.
Over the years, I traveled quite a bit with Him and imbibed from observing and interacting with Him at lectures, during informal gatherings, driving in the car with him, or simply doing his accounts and office work! He expected those who assisted him to be alert, vigilant and yet bring to every situation a loving and compassionate heart.
Though He is no more in the physical plane, He is ever present for me, silently guiding the work I do.
Om Shri Chinmaya Sadgurve Namah! (My humble prostrations to my guru Shri Chinmaya!)
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