Life of Swami Venkatesananda

30. From the Acorn to the Oak

The Divine Life Trust Society

Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Venkatesaya

Sri Bhimananda Shastri, Rishikesh

Swami Venkatesananda Sarasvati is a real resplendent Guru-Bhakta and a true seeker after Truth. He leads a stoic, perfect, happy, pure, saintly divine life. Blessed are the parents and the people among whom such a beneficial and benevolent, benign and kind writer and orator, affectionate and beloved, respected and praised, silent and peaceful, tolerant and patient, humane and compassionate, intelligent and thoughtful, Jnana-Ratna lives today Bharatavarsha is proud of such great souls.

It is, therefore, a rare and extraordinary privilege given to me to convey my best wishes in a law written words on the holy and auspicious occasion of the birthday of Swami Venkatesananda Sarasvati, the foremost disciple and obedient Bhakta of the modern world-famous Self-realised Yogi and Advaita Vedanta philosopher, H.H. Sri Swami Sivananda Sarasvati Maharaj, the saint of the blissful abode of Anarda Kutir, on the right bank of the Holy Mother Ganga at Muni-ki-reti in Tehri-Garhwal State.

The Vedanta philosophy declares that the knower of Brahman becomes Brahman Itself. But, it is not an ordinary, easy joke to know Brahman or God. It is a very difficult task, even like walking on the razor's edge. Only real yearning, skilful, prudent, resolute, patient, tolerant, dynamic, energetic and diligent seekers and aspirants, devotees and Sadhakas can take up and pursue such a difficult path to the ultimate Goal of life.

I have bean busy reading and learning the descriptions in the ancient Shastras and sacred lore, hearing and listening to the inspiring, powerful and potential and soul stirring Adhyatmik speeches of saints and sages, and I have learnt that the aim of life is not merely eating, drinking, laughing, gossiping, sleeping and making merry, but that life has got the aim of seeking after the ever-shining effulgent Ultimate Truth concealed within us.

What then is Truth? Is not this whole phenomenal world Truth? We see it, enjoy it. We live on this earth. We are seeing these objects; hence is this not Truth? No, dear brother, this world is not really Truth. This is changing and perishable. All the Shastra declare that the entire universe is nothing but a mere dream. Just as we often see various kinds of dreams, we are seeing this world, too. As soon as we get up from the bed and leave it, the dream vanishes. The dream was caused by the mind. Similarly the whole world is the creation of the cosmic mind. Man becomes what he thinks intensely. If a man wishes to realise Truth, he should shut the world out of his mind. Therefore it is that the sages declare that truth is attained through meditation and renunciation. It is such a path that Swami Venkatesananda has chosen to tread.

The dawn of Life

After many a devotional practice and unbroken austerity, the parents, Sri Srinivasan and Srimati Lakshmi Devi, were blessed with a happy and pretty child on a glorious day when the breeze was cool and the atmosphere full of fragrance, when the birds were twittering in the air, when peacocks were busy dancing under the grove of mango and jackfruit trees, when the shepherd boys were piping under the palm and coconut trees, and the farmers were singing songs melodiously, in a remote village, Koilvanni, in the Tanjore District, in Dakshina Bharata.

The parents were devotees of God, God-fearing, cultured and rich; hence there were no wants. They paid their full attention to bringing up the new-born infant. The father had the boy christened Parthasarathi, a good and sweet name. As all of us know well, Partha means the great Mahabharata-warrior, Maharathi Arjuna, and Sarathi means Charioteer; and Parthasarathi is Lord Krishna. Swami Venkatesananda has in him an Amsha of Lord Krishna.

You feel that every Amsha of the Lord is the Lord Himself. Suppose you ate thirsty and you drink 'Ganga-Jal' in a glass. You have really drunk Ganga-Jal - water of the Ganges. There is still a lot of water in the Ganges. Yet, the glass of water that you drank was also Ganges water. Similarly, though God is not exhausted by these sparks emanating from Him, the sparks are the manifestations of God Himself. In fact, each and every Jiva is nothing but the same Almighty Lord.

Parthasarathi grew up day by day as Chandra does, regaining the Kalas day after day, in the Shukla-Paksha, so that the Full Moon could help the living beings with its sweet rays. It is our belief that all living beings depend upon the elixir or nectar from the moon, and the moon waters the earth with the soft dew. As the moon is beautiful and attractive, similarly the boy was handsome, lovable and worthy of admiration, hence almost all the villagers, neighbours and kith and kin came there to pay their homage and best wishes. Being well-off, the parents of Parthasarathi distributed sweetmeats and Prasad of Lord Venkateswara. The parents were glad and offered prayers to their Ishta-Devata.

The boy was still tiny and was not able to express words; but he tried to utter the Names of the Lord. Soon the boy was initiated into the worship of Lord Venkateswara. He used to go to worship Lord Venkateswara on the Tirumalai Hills. He offered devout prayers to the Lord, and would not eat anything till his prayers were over.


The parents initiated the boy into the Hindu religious tradition. He was taught how to read and write. Thus five years of his life went by. Then the parents decided to send him to the school. The father after reciting the holy Mantras, took the boy to the school; here he was initiated into the Alphabet.

After his completing primary education, Parthasarathi was admitted into the National High School at Mannargudi. Here, in the public examination, he secured good marks in all the subjects, specially in English, Sanskrit and Mathematics. He was proficient in writing essays and was an influential speaker at the debating club.

One day the English teacher put him a rather complicated question: 'What do you know about the Himalayan University? Was Rama Tirtha right in replying to a questioner in America that there existed a mystic University in the Himalayas where the Ganga is a Professor carrying the Divine Message to the people of the plains?' Brilliant and resplendent, Parthasarathi got up and began to answer: 'Sir, Swami Rama Tirtha was quite right. He meant to say that the source of the entire knowledge, especially the Vedanta philosophy, is the Himalayan mountain-range from where it proceeds as the Ganga, and spreads out in the whole world. Of course, it is not a man-made University; nevertheless, knowledge flows with the never-ceasing and gently-flowing Mother Ganga. There are no Professors there, sir, like you; but the Ganga is the preceptress who initiates and teaches the oriental people.' The teacher was immensely pleased with this answer.

Since the teacher loved him affectionately, he allowed young Parthasarathi, even when he was a boy of 12, to read the books of Swami Vivekananda and Swami Sivananda in the Library of a local Cooperative Bank. From that age, Parthasarathi began to read various kinds of religious books and obtained spiritual knowledge.

But that did not appease his spiritual hunger; it rather fanned the inner flame. There was urgent need of a real spiritual guide. Therefore, he began to correspond with Swami Sivananda.

After the High School Examination, Parthasarathi took up the most difficult art of shorthand and typewriting; and very soon got complete mastery over it.

When I implored him to say something about his own past life, Venkatesananda replied: 'There are countless creatures like me in this universe. I have nothing particular to tell about my life which is not applicable to the life of every other living creature. However, there is just this one simple fact that, after leaving school, I began to read the soul-stirring and elevating books of Swami Vivekananda and Swami Sivananda. Besides these, I used to worship Lord Venkateswara, do Japa and observe some Vratas like fasting on Saturdays.' By these words of his, the reader might feel that there are millions of souls like him. But, no; he is really a great soul; he was so even when he was still a student. Even at that time he wanted to give up the world, and therefore wrote a letter to Swami Sivananda in 1937, craving for his permission to come to Rishikesh, and join his Ashram. Swami Sivananda, however, advised the young man to wait a little longer and to do Japa and Kirtan at home. 'I have no Ashram; I myself live on Kshetra Bhiksha', wrote Swami Sivananda.


After passing several examinations in Shorthand, Typewriting, Book-Keeping, etc., on the advice of his father, Parthasarathi worked in several offices, and lastly served in the A.R.P. Office in Madras. He did his work efficiently; but his heart was set on a higher purpose. 'What is the use of all this service? This service will not lead me to my goal,' Parthasarathi used to reflect often. As soon as he was transferred to Calcutta, he began to correspond with Swami Sivananda once again. Then he was transferred once again to Delhi. He was a new-comer to the Delhi Secretariat. Yet, his desire to take a few days' leave and visit Rishikesh was very great. At that time, the relatives of the officer under whom he was working, who, incidentally, were good devotees, wanted to visit Haridwar and Rishikesh. Parthasarathi accompanied them on this trip to Rishikesh - and this was in October, 1944. He met Swami Sivananda. Swamiji asked him: 'What is your name?' Parthasarathi gave his name. 'Oh! You are Parthasarathi from Delhi?' Swami Sivananda at once recognised him. Soon after this, Parthasarathi returned to Ananda Kutir and stayed on for a week, during the Christmas of 1944. On the day of his departure to Delhi, he expressed to Swamiji his admiration of the Ashram, and Swamiji at once remarked: 'Then, stay here itself.' Parthasarathj could not; but though he returned to Delhi, his heart was still at Rishikesh.


Like the Buddha, Parthasarathi renounced a prosperous worldly life; and like Sankara he renounced very early in his life, when he was yet a Bala- Brahmachari. He left Delhi and came to Rishikesh, and with the permission of Swami Sivananda, joined the Ashram to lead an ascetic life. For two years he led the life of a Brahmachari and Sadhaka. He did almost all the services connected with the Ashram. He got up at 4 am. daily, bathed in the Ganga, and worshipped Lord Vishwanath at the Mandir, where he was a Pujari, too ; he did his Guruseva and also Japa, Kirtan and Bhajan.

After two years of austere life, he was initiated into the holy order of Sanyas, on the auspicious occasion of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Sri Swami Sivananda. He is one of the first batch of disciples who received Sanyasa-Diksha on the Birthday of Swami Sivananda. Thus did Parthasarathi become Swami Venkatesananda Saraswati.

As A Writer

Sri Swami Venkatesananda is a lucid and good writer. He has written and edited several books, such as Bhagavad Gita for Students, Swami Brahmananda's Lectures, Swami Satchidananda's Lectures, Swami Vishnudevananda's Lectures and above all Sri Swami Sivananda's Lectures during his All India-Tour. He has written the life-sketches of Swamis Krishnananda, Chidananda, Satyananda Paramananda, Narayanaranda, and many others; he is never tired of writing life sketches. Perhaps he will write my life-sketch, too! He has written many essays on his Gurudeva. I have read some of them especially that in 'Uttara Yogi' which is fascinating, it touched my innermost soul.

He is an extraordinary writer. Whatever he writes is solid and inspiring. In his book 'Bhagavad-Gita for Students', he writes: 'I have only one Guru and He is God on earth, the truest embodiment of the teachings of Bhagavad Gita'. I visualise that he will write many more books on Yoga and Vedanta, for the sake of the suffering humanity.

As An Editor

Because he is a good writer, Swamiji has appointed him the Editor of the Yoga-Vedanta Forest University Weekly. He edits the journal very well. He compiles and edits all the soul-elevating writings and articles of Sri Swamiji Maharaj and other writers. I cannot say whether he is a re-born Rishi or Jnani, because his motto is to propagate the knowledge of Vedanta among the people. He wants to spread Jnana throughout the world.

He is a real servant of the world. He serves suffering humanity by giving it the injection of spirituality, or the Divine Life Teachings of Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj.

In conclusion, I wish to say that my dear friend and companion, the seeker after Truth and Guru-Bhakta, Swami Venkatesananda, is a humble saint. He is a fully blossomed aspirant after the ultimate Reality. He is an exemplary Sadhaka, a ripened yogi.

I should not fail to pay my homage to the parents of Sri Venkatesananda: for they, though he was the only son of his mother, have permitted him to pursue the Nivritti Marga, and have not put obstacles on his path. This indeed is a rare parental love.

My humble prayers to the Almighty arise from the bottom of my heart, that Sri Swami Venkatesanandaji may be blessed with good health, and a long life of Guru Seva and service of humanity.