Life of Swami Venkatesananda

17. Fiery Determination

The Divine Life Trust Society

Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Venkatesaya

Sri Venkateswaran, Calcutta

Salutations and adorations unto the Lotus Feet of Sadguru Sri Swami Sivananda and His Right Hand, H.H. Sri Swami Venkatesananda.

Just as the squirrel which carried little bits of sand at the time of Sethu-Bandhanam by Lord Rama, this humble self has been highly blessed to have been a silent witness when Sri Parthasarathy - Swami Venkatesananda's Poorvashram name, renounced his beloved mother, father, step-mother, brothers, sisters, a promising official career in the Central Government in New Delhi, and a number of friends and relatives, on a sacred Ekadasi Day - Sunday, 2nd September 1945. Before that, my holy acquaintance with Parthasarathy was during one Sivaratri Puja and two Bhajana meetings held under the auspices of the Divine Life Society, New Delhi. Sri Bhagawan declared in the Gita 'Mayaivaite nihatah purvameva Nimittamatram bhava savyasachin'. Sri Gurudev has blessed me with such a great rare opportunity.

Once, after reaching Sri Gurudeve Lotus Feet, Sri Parthasarathy signalled me that I can intimate his friends in Delhi about the step he had taken. From that day onwards, I had to face accusation and criticism from my South Indian friends. His father rushed to Rishikesh and returned disappointed. Then his mother went to Rishikesh and stayed there for about two months to persuade Parthasarathy to return. In spite of her threatening to drown herself in Ganga, Parthasarathy was unswerving and unflinching in his devotion to the Lotus Feet of Gurudev, and his mother had to return to South India. Parthasarathy faced several attempts to scare him away from Sri Gurudeva, and has come out successful. He even told Gurudev that he will rather wander in the Himalayan regions getting Shiksha if available, and accept Sannyas from the hands of Sri Gurudev at the latter's sweet will and pleasure, or drown himself in the Ganga, than go back to job and family, if so commanded. Such was his fiery determination. No Sannyasi has met his own near relatives and friends constantly and frequently like Swami Venkatesananda, in the prime of his youth. I am sure that this kind of Vairagya could not have been attained in this birth alone.

'Bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate
Vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma sudurlabbah.

Not only has Swami Venkatesananda stood all kinds of test in the path of his renunciation, but has made his mother, father, step-mother, and the whole family to become devotees of Sri Guru Dev. It is easy to be detached in out-of-the-way places like Vasishtha Guha, Badrinath, Uttarkashi, etc., but not in Sivanandashram which has become a modern world-centre visited every day by hundreds of people. Swami Venkatesananda has, without a tinge of attachment, his mother permanently staying at Ananda Kutir. He must have heen a Yoqa Bhrashta and a great Yogi in previous births; otherwise without some misery or calamity, such Vairagya cannot dawn in a well-to-do, promising and ambitious youth. A man who renounces the world is said to redeem twentyone generations in his family, past and future. The present-day materialistic man will not accept this theory. Before our very eyes, we see Swami Venkatesananda redeeming his whole living family, friends and relatives and bringing them all unto the Lotus Feet of Gurudev, without tears and heart-breaking. This is a greet achievement of Swami Venkatesananda.

I adore Swami Venkatesananda as Lord Ganesha incarnate on the banks of the Holy Ganga, to write the great modern epic 'Sri Swami Sivananda's All-India and Ceylon Tour Lectures Volume.' He has great memory and grasping power and has been able to record verbatim every lecture made by Sri Gurudev, single-handedly, in spite of strenuous and continuous travel for two months, from 8th September to 8th November, 1950. He has become the Chronicler of Sri Guru Dev's day-to-day Upadeshas and activities. Sri Gurudev has tested him thoroughly and initiated him into the Order of Sannyas, on 12th September 1947, immediately after Gurudev's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Gurudev told that He should see Parthasarathy smiling and serene even when slapped with shoes, and then only he would give Sannyas. Venkatesananda has proved equal to all tests by his adamantine devotion to Sri Gurudev and has become one of the chief disciples of Sri Gurudev.

Sri Swami Venkatesananda is always child-like, innocent and full of humour. He expressed to me on 2nd September, 1945, when he left New Delhi: 'I am worshipping Lord Venkateswara of Tirupati daily, and feel the same deity in the human form of Sri Venkateswara Iyer, taking me to the Lotus Feet of Sri Gurudeva'. It is also significant that he has assumed the name of Sri Venkatesa as his Sannyasa Ashram name. When first he came to Ananda Kutir, he was wondering at the sight of the small kutirs. Sri Gurudev remarked: 'What are you seeing here; these kutirs are meant for people like you.' From that time onwards, Parthasarathy felt: 'Ananda Kutir is my abode. Sri Swami Sivananda is my mother, father, friend, philosopher and guide. He is my Master.' Thus he developed intense Vairagya in the midst of so many friends, and at last took me, an absolute stranger, into confidence, when he took the final step of renunciation.

Sacred Bharatavarsha is highly blessed with such great sons like Swami Venkatesananda, to hold the Torch of Divine Knowledge from the heights of the sacred Himalayas, like the Great Sun whose rays penetrate every nook and corner of the world.

I prostrate myself unto the Lotus Feet of Sri Gurudev to bless this humble self and each and every one of us to become glorious like Swami Venkatesananda and his other illustrious disciples.