Swami Chidananda: An Exemplary Life
Speech Delivered by Swami Yatidharmananda
of Swami Chidananda Sevashram in Rishikesh, India
on the Celebration of the Birth Centenary of Swami Chidananda
at the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago, May 20, 2016.
Om Guru Brahma Guru Vishnu Guru Devo Maheswarah
Guru Sakhsat Parambrahma Tasmai Sri Gurave Namah
Radiant Immortal Atman! Blessed Divinities!
I bow to each one of you in the name of my holy Master Swami Chidanandaji and our paramagurudev Worshipful Sri Swami Sivanandaji. Today is Buddha Jayanti, an auspicious day. Today is also the day Paramahamsa Hariharananda Giri jis Birthday.
Also 73 years ago on this very day, in the year 1943, our Gurudev Sri Swami Chidanandaji met his Guru Sri Swami Sivananda for the first time at Rishikesh and offered himself at his service for his entire life. This year marks the 100th Birth Anniversary of Swami Chidanandaji and we are all gathered here for this occasion.
The ultimate aspiration of every human being is to become the Divine Being, endowed with infinite divine consciousness. It is to show that we can attain to this consciousness and, having attained, how we may live a life of Light and blessedness, showering bliss, radiance and peace upon all, that saints have come up on this earlth plane since the dawn of creation.
With their wonderful and peculiar power, they inspire all those who come into the magnetic circle of their divine presence. Whenever in our struggle to tread the life path, we feel faint, we are discouraged, depressed, or we lose confidence in ourselves, then the shining example of these saints comes to us as flash of living inspiration, to wake us up again, fill us with fresh courage, fresh confidence and fresh energy to go onwards.
Saints are the personification of blazing purity. They are compassion-incarnate. Their life is simple. Their ordinary daily actions are characterized by courtesy and kindness. Above all, they are the embodiments of uniform, continuous goodness. They are examples of absolute truthfulness. The idea of causing even the least harm or pain to even the tiniest creature upon earth is simply abhorrent to them and they cannot think of it even in their dreams.
This is exemplified in the story of how a saint, happening to be on the bank of a river espies a scorpion being carried away by the current. There is no hesitation, no thought; immediately he stretches out his hand and brings the scorpion out of water on upon dry land. Even as he was doing this, the scorpion stings him and he is made to drop it in an automatic reflex action, and the scorpion is in the water again; again the saint at once lifts it out to save it from its watery grave. Again another sting, but the saint does not desist from rescuing this ignorant creature, and he succeeds after several attempts, and in the process of getting stung several times.
When someone standing by observed this strange scene and queried why the saint could not have left the ungrateful creature to its fate, he gets the calm and dignified reply: ‘Brother, the scorpion is but manifesting its nature and I am manifesting mine. It is its Dharma (nature) to sting, and it is my Dharma to serve.’ This is the special point which we have to note about the life of the saints.
The leading spiritual luminaries from time immemorial have ever striven for the transformation of man’s life here on earth from a state of animalistic quest after the constant appeasement of his lower sensual appetites into a state of higher and nobler aspiration and a loftier seeking after the attainment of the sublime eternal values. They have dedicated their lives to the task of ‘endowing the human being with a loftier vision and inspiring and enthusing him to earnestly endeavour for the achievement of ethical and spiritual perfection, which is the true and worthwhile goal of man’s life on this earth. One Such true and inspiring representative of this legacy of spiritual luminaries was Sri Swami Chidananda, the illustrious successor disciple of the sagely Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh, India.
To bring about the recognition and an acceptance of the spiritual purpose of man’s life, to reinstate the moral law and a consciousness of moral values in all spheres of human activity,
To guide modern men and women everywhere through a life of practical idealism towards a harmonious and integral unfoldment and
To admonish and to exhort and urge them to live in willing conformity with the universal ethical standards—
such were the noble qualities and tasks carried out by this saintly man of wisdom. To this task he had dedicated himself.
His work was dynamic. Ceaselessly and tirelessly this holy man of God had kept himself at this sublime mission. During his lifetime he had sustained the spirit of humanity with his heartening and rousing message of strong positivism, intense spiritual optimism, hope and active endeavour to spiritual attainment. Though he lived a very simple life, yet he had entered into the lifestream of humanitv. The force of his teachings, the inspiration of his idealistic life and the magnetic influence of his powerful personality had come to be felt as a living transforming presence in the lives of men and women who came in contact with him.
His presence was felt as a saving grace and a redeeming power in our frustrated lives, racked by the uncertainties and insecurity of this precarious period. The people of today’s world, people of all walks of life, high and low, found in Gurudev Swami Chidananda a humane philosopher, a man though uncommon yet possessed with a fund of common-sense, sympathy and deep understanding of not only our inward spiritual problems and intricate mental conflicts, but also of our simple and practical daily difficulties as well as the intimate personal problems of our everyday life.
Having been guided by him, in private as well as in public affairs, people had acquired a new vision and learnt a simple technique of harmonising the claims of the world of matter in which they lived with the eternal inner call of their essential spiritual nature, the unfoldment and perfection of which is the great task man here is to achieve.
By coming into contact with this spiritual luminary, even hard matter-of-fact men of action have had light thrown upon the affairs of their lives and the secret revealed to them of adhering to the path of virtue and righteousness in the midst of the chaotic, unethical activities of life in this present age.
When truthfulness, selflessness, honesty, purity, moral rectitude seem to be fast vanishing from human society, the gentle and persuasive, but insistent and persistent message of this towering man of wisdom had replanted them in the true life of man through his simple, universal concepts.
Gurudev Swami Chidananda’s entire philosophy and outlook is based upon his direct spiritual realization and the resultant deep and unshakable belief in the Supreme Being that governs and guides man’s life here. This Supreme Presence was to him the most tremendous Fact of life. A vibrant, living faith in this Divine Presence pervaded all his life and entered into each and every thought and action therein. Sri Swamiji’s contact with it was vital and perennial and was unhampered by his perception of and participation in the normal affairs of men and things of this outside world of matter. This was because, to him the whole world itself stood transfigured as a grand manifestation, a glorious and visible expression of the Divine Substance, into which he had perfectly entered and with which he had perfectly integrated his own being. No wonder then that the Light and the Wisdom that flowed forth from him had the power and the illumining quality of the Divine Source with which he ever lived in unbroken Inner union.
Thus, when, in solving our problems, he spoke to us, his words enter into us and we found our spirit quickened. Insurmountable obstacles became simple to surmount, what was difficult became easy. Fears and misgivings vanished. Doubts that had arisen sank and disappeared in a sea of faith, and weakness that was felt in the heart a moment ago was replaced by an upsurge of inner strength. We felt both lightened and enlightened.
Such was our Gurudev Swami Chidananda, who was throughout a friend and a helper to all of us who served him personally and tens of thousands of people. He was a hard task-master in every way, though he was also a loving father and mother to everyone of us, simultaneously with his firmness in his subjecting the disciple to a rigorous training together with a parental care and affection.
He is our sympathetic consoler and sage counsellor, who is enshrined in the hearts of many as their mentor in their lives, in matters moral and as their spiritual Guide and Master.
Gurudev Sri Swami Chidanandaji succeeded not merely to hold aloft in both hands the banners of religion and service but to live and to teach the identity of these two human ideals as a single flame of the soul’s march to perfection.
The celebration of his 100th birthday anniversary is to us all an obvious occasion to pay our homage and gratitude to the great culture of India, whose vital spirit pulsates through the veins of its saints and sages, a noble example of which is Sri Swami Chidanandaji.
Wake up at dawn each day to salute the Universal Being. Bow down in adoration unto Him before you start the day. Go through the day serenely, full of happiness and contentment. There is nothing to condemn in this world. Change your angle of vision. Forego a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Stop anxiety and smile gently unto yourself. Feel that the whole world is the manifestation of the Lord and you are serving the Lord in all these names and forms. Convert life into Yoga. God walks with the simple, reveals Himself through the sufferer, gives understanding to the noble and keeps His Grace from the haughty. So renounce ego, cultivate virtues and be free. Keep the mind always calm and peaceful. Be the conqueror of your mind, the subduer of your desires and a master of your destiny, for you are the master.
We deem it a great good fortune and privilege to be provided with this sacred opportunity to pay homage, on the auspicious day of his 100th Birthday Anniversary, to Satgurudev Swami Chidananda in whom we see a unique and amazing confluence of two trends, viz., of renunciation and all the inwardness and detachment it connotes, and the thrilling dynamism with all the outwardly expressed activity and active, sympathetic interest in human beings and their lives implied by it. These two trends seemingly divergent would lead us to suppose revered Gurudev to be a mixture of contradictions. But no, rather it is precisely to teach us that true renunciation and dynamism are not contradictory and to bring home to us the lofty lessons that all inspired, altruistic activity for the commonweal and welfare of mankind at large is actually based upon and springs forth from a whole and genuine renunciation of one’s self-centred life.
Our revered Master had taken to this ancient Order and lived his noble life of unceasing good works and innumerable services unto all classes and sections of present day humanity all over the world. His renunciation represents, as it were, a fertile seed out of which has sprung forth the great tree of his later renunciate life, full of flowers, fruits and the shade-giving foliage of a many-sided Lokasangraha or selfless service to humanity upon the physical, mental, moral and spiritual fields of modern man’s life.
The Master’s twin acts of renunciation and dynamic service carry the message of His Guru Swami Sivananda in true spirit: ‘O Man! Give up thy little I and thy petty selfish life; let thy selfless life flower into cosmic love, world brotherhood and service unto all. Give up thy little self and give yourself in body, mind and spirit to the whole world. To renounce is verily to offer yourself as a gift unto the noble cause of human welfare.’
May the world respond to this living call. May the Master’s radiant life inspire one and all. May this 100th Birthday Anniversary mark the dawn of a new day in the life of modern man wherein the spirit of renunciation and self-giving replace that of greed, selfishness and hatred and bring happiness, joy and peace into the lives of all men.
SEEK DIVINITY SERVE HUMANITY is a vision which has been handed down to us by our spiritual masters—in an unbroken lineage.
The state of yoga is reflected in the perfection of every action. Gurudev Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj lived this perfection in action every moment of his life. His actions gave his words the authority and his actions demonstrated how the pursuit of perfection and excellence is an every moment’s affair in our daily life.
Yoga means union of mind, body and spirit with the Divine. This is the ultimate Goal. Although this may indicate a certain state of consciousness both individual and universal, it is a way to help one reach this ultimate Goal.
Gurudev Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj devised a simple, direct, practical and pragmatic method that leads us in that direction of spiritual evolvement from the teachings of His Guru Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj.
It is for this reason we, his disciples and devotees, felt the need to create a center that will assist humanity wherever possible to discover their inner potential for goodness, virtue, honesty, truth, and enlightenment. And thus lay the foundations of a humane world for all of us to live in.
Swami Chidananda Sevashram is an effort to achieve this state of Yoga, a state of universal well-being through the Vedic Knowledge in the Sivananda tradition. Yoga of Synthesis as devised by Sri Swami Sivanandaji is our principle. We aspire to inspire one and all to adopt Ayurveda for the body, Yoga for the Mind and Vedant for the soul.
I would like to conclude with two prayers that my Guru Sri Swami Chidanandaji resonated with.
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace!
That where there is hatred, I may bring love.
That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness.
That where there is discord, I may bring harmony.
That where there is error, I may bring truth.
That where there is doubt, I may bring faith.
That where there is despair, I may bring hope.
That where there are shadows, I may bring light.
That where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort,than to be comforted.
To understand, than to be understood.
To love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life.
O Adorable Lord of Mercy and Love!
Salutations and prostrations unto Thee.
Thou art Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient.
Thou art Sat-Chid-Ananda.
Thou art Existence, Knowledge and Bliss Absolute.
Thou art the Indweller of all beings.
Grant us an understanding heart,
Equal vision, balanced mind,
Faith, devotion and wisdom.
Grant us inner spiritual strength
To resist temptation and to control the mind.
Free us from egoism, lust, anger, greed, hatred and jealousy.
Fill our hearts with divine virtues.
Let us behold Thee in all these names and forms.
Let us serve Thee in all these names and forms.
Let us ever remember Thee.
Let us ever sing Thy glories.
Let Thy Name be ever on our lips.
Let us abide in Thee for ever and ever.