Life of Swami Venkatesananda

37. The Inner Man

The Divine Life Trust Society

Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Venkatesaya

An Address delivered by Sri Gauri Prasad, Retired Judge, Swargashram

Sri Swamiji Maharaj and fellow Sadhaks of Sivananda Ashram:

In the lovely spiritual garden of the Divine Life Society we witness time after miracles being performed to the great Glory of the Divine Life Society and to the great Joy of its Sage Founder. In this heavenly spiritual Orchard, its Saint Gardener is able to bring together rare specimen of spiritual seedlings who, under his divine guidance, are nursed on right principles of highly ethical and spiritual value and they bud so rapidly and blossom forth into such beautiful flowers of exquisite divine nature so suddenly that the Master Gardener himself feels at times astonished at the miraculous transformation that takes place under his own benign fostering care.

One such spiritual miracle is our Sri Swami Venkatesananda Maharaj, the famous chronicler-editor of the renowned 1950 All-India Tour volume of His Holiness Sri Swami Sivananda Maharaj.

Who could imagine that a young man doing so well and markedly rising and flourishing so well in his own worldly official career would give it up so abruptly and take a leap to plunge himself headlong in the unfathomable Ocean of Divine Energy and come up so quickly to the suface of the Divine Life wholly transformed into a full-fledged Sannyasi of such divine splendour and spiritual eminence. It is said that by churning the Ocean of the Divine Maya, Sri Bhagavan was able to separate the nectar from the poison.

Similarly, the sage and saint of Anarda Kutir by his one short spin of the Eharatavarsha was able to bring out from the spiritual coral islands of that unfathomable Ocean of Divine Chit-Shakti such spiritual Jewels as our Sri Swami Chidananda and Swami Venkatesananda. No doubt that spiritual spin was so vehemently whirling and of such hectic and overwhelming a nature that any person of less substantial and ethically weaker nature would have been blown into ashes and reduced to nought. Yet our jolly Swami Venkatesananda took to that spin as a spiritual cradle of his infant soul and remained swinging in it until he could rise awakened to the full height and glory of that Divine Spiritual Mission and come out of it as a Crest-Jewel of such spiritual lustre and brilliance the like of which Swamiji Maharaj himself had not seen till then.

Spiritual development so effective, so far-reaching and complete as to turn our whole physical nature into a perfect divine instrument and enable us to lead a thoroughly Divine Life is indeed the summum bonum of all human efforts on this earth-plane. But when we look with great admiration and reverence at such a rapid and thorough transformation of an ordinary human like into a sublime Divine Life and adore it, we should not stop thinking about it any more. We should rather closely look for the basic inherent good qualities which constituted the main causes of that happy and glorious transformation, and try to understand and follow the process by which it had been achieved.

On an earlier occasion, similar to the present one, I had taken the liberty of saying a few words about the aim and object of human life on this Globe, and I had ventured to state that while animal and vegetable kingdoms grow by competition, rivalry and self-seeking, human beings grow by co-operation, renunciation and self-sacrifice. I had further suggested that one could profit by the experience and life of those who were showing an ever-increasing consciousness of the divinity or unfoldment of the Self in them. We have to understand and follow the basic nature of the process of such a Divine Life. While action is a common inherent quality of all Nature in the Universe in human life, we have to gain mastery over our lower nature and transcend it.

The Gita says, 'By work the votary doth rise to Saint'. One beautiful contrivance in the Divine Government of the Universe is that our very fetters in course of time help us in obtaining our freedom.

Karma, which is a source of bondage, if done desirelessly and egolessly, becomes in course of time a means of our Liberation or Moksha. But even after gaining that liberation, a true Yogin says, 'I shall, though my deed is done, live for the good of the world'.

We should not entertain the notion that to become a saint is to become dead to the world. How selfless work leads to saintship and how sages serve the world is demonstrated by the daily activities of our Saint Sage of Ananda Kutir. The Puranic stories that the gods danced in the sky and filled the earth with showers of flowers, that the winds blew sweet odours and the trees put forth flowers, even out of season, when the Great Rama, Krishna, Buddha or Christ were born, are not mere poetic fancies. They all embody the truth, though in a figurative way, that the Universe is thrilled with Joy at the birth of its greatest Saviour.

One atom can never move without dragging of the rest of the world along with it, and no man can ever become a sage without proportionately raising the whole world. Therefore, to develop ourselves to the utmost is the highest service that we can ever do to the universe.

The sympathetic relief of physical suffering is very good; to elevate man's moral nature and widen his mental horizon is still better. But best of all is to become yourself the spiritual pabulum by which humanity lives.

The life of our young, sweet, smiling and jovial Swami Venkatesananda is becoming such a sweet, flavoury and spiritual tonic food for humanity that if we feed our lives constantly with its guiding principles, we would become not only spiritually strong, but immortal and eternally blissful, transcending all barriers of time and space.

But before we attempt to take to it, let us closely examine the stuff of which it is made. The first is his strong Will, the steel frame of his Life Divine. What is the nature of this Will and how does it work? It is a Shakti, not a Vasana, it is not Cheshta even; these two are the negation of Will. Will is not desire but a power or Shakti. It is not Cheshta which implies a sense of weakness and an attitude of struggle and labour to produce an effect. Will is indeed the Executive Power of an Individual Soul. It is the organ of the living Master of the physical body. This Shakti is situated or has its centre in the Sahasradala, just above the crown of the head and from that seat of activity it works. It works through Buddhi for thought and knowledge, through Manes for sensations, through Chitta for emotions, and through the Prana for enjoyment. Though it is a Prime Minister of the Jiva-Atma, it can function perfectly only when it works directly in each organ according to the capacities of the organ.

There are two causes of weakness, error or failure in working our emancipation. First, the contusion of the organs. If the Prana interferes in sensation and emotion and thought, then a man becomes the slave - anisha - of the Prana, i.e. to say of the desires. If the Chita interferes with sensation and thought, then they are falsified by the emotions like love, hatred, pity, revenge. etc. So if the Manas interferes with reason, the man mistakes his sensations for just ideas or true arguments. If again the reason, imagination, memory and logic interfere with Knowledge, the man is debarred from higher Knowledge. Finally, if even the Buddhi interferes with the Will, the man is limited by the power of his limited Knowledge, instead of moving nearer to Omnipotence. In brief, if a machine or instrument is used for a work for which it is unfit, then it either cannot do that work at all, or it does it imperfectly. In short, Dharma-Sankara is created. The will, therefore, should keep itself apart from all other organs. It may be asked why does a man allow it? Because of Ajnana or Avidya. It is his inability to recognise his own true divine nature, position and authority.

Various methods are used by Yogins to recover the power of the Will, the Prime Minister of the Atma. The Hatha-Yogin uses the Prana and the body; the Raja-Yogin uses the heart, Manas and Buddhi; but even this is not the best, it is only a second-best, and entails much struggle, failure or frequent disappointment.

The Will is only perfect in its action when it works apart from all these, straight on the subject from its seat in the Sahasradala without effort, without emotion and eagerness and without desire, in an egoless manner. The axiom being each function to itself, and Will is its own function.

Will always obeys the Ishwara, but it acts in itself and by itself. It has to use the other organs but should not allow itself to be used by them. Our young Swami has begun his divine life with the right Knowledge of the different parts of the human machine, their nature and functions, the nature of the Will and the nature of the Ishwara. This knowledge need not be perfect in order to begin; but he has got the elementary Knowledge which has given him such a good start. The Will, when it begins to act, is hampered by the Swabbava. Therefore, until you are able to act on the Swabhava, you will not or should not bring your Will to bear on life. We have to remember that the word 'Swabbava' means one thing in the highest spiritual nature and takes quite another form and significance in the lower nature of the three Gunas. Our lower nature is a mixed weft of Knowledge and ignorance, of truth and falsehood, of right and wrong, of finding and losing, of sin and virtue. It is the Will-force of the spiritual nature in man that is always looking for self-expression and self-finding in all these things - the lower Swabhava. The Swabbava of lower nature opposes the perfect action of the Will, because the human lower nature is imperfect, only partly evolved. The Yogin wants to evolve his Self rapidly and with great success, but the imperfect Swabhava says, 'I do not wish to be perfect. I am accustomed to my imperfection and find it easy and comfortable.' So, the Yogin, by his Will-power, seizes hold of the Swabhava and removes the obstacles in the way of its own perfect development and action. The will has to assert its omnipotency to act as commanded by the Purusha - the Jivatma. We have to understand that the Will is the Shakti in action and there is only one Shakti Kali herself, who is God manifesting as Divine-Energy.

Our young Sri Swami Venkatesananda made his Will, as divine energy, seize hold of his own old Samskaras or Swabhavas which he found as obstacles in the way of making rapid progress. As he had come suited and booted from New Delhi to take his Sannyas, he first discarded his shoes; he stripped his pair of feet naked; but they would not co-operate, they got angry and became troublesome with blisters on their face. But our Swami, with the power of his strong will, persisted and eventually brought them under complete subjugation. He now walks barefooted with perfect ease in all reasons of the year, hot or cold. In fact, to him and to Swami Chidananda, putting on shoes appears now fettering the natural liberty of their feet, the basic part of their two legs which they wish to be ever active and moving to do their loving human Seva. So have they done away with their clothes. No unnecessary vesture is allowed to load their physical bodies; not even an unrequisite internal nourishment is taken to hamper their mental, ethical and spiritual activities. In short, this strong Will is used by our humorous Swami Venkatesananda, both as a power of defense against the asuric elements in our lower human nature, and also as a divine energy to do Divine Work and lead a Divine life dedicated wholly for the uplift of mankind; in other words, he is endeavouring to govern his actions by the essential law of his higher nature, which is at its core the pure quality of the spirit in its inherent power of Conscious Will and in its characteristic force of action.
His other great equipment for leading a pure Divine Life is his Shraddha. It is another subtle effective power which is not easy to understand, and is often misunderstood. Shraddha or Faith is the outcome of that concentrated will of devotion. In a man which moves him to make sacrifices and to surrender himself to an other higher power. The Gita says: 'Shraddhamayoyam purusho yo yach chraddhas sa ova sab - (XVII:3). This Purusha or Soul in man is, as it were, made of Shraddha, a faith, a will to be, a belief in itself and existence, and whatever is that will, faith or constituting belief in him, he is that and that is he. The soul's faith, not a mere intellectual belief, but its concordant will to know, to see, to believe and to do and be according to its vision and knowledge is really ones Shraddba. Faith is the pressure of the Spirit on humanity, as Dr Radhakrishnan has aptly put it.

It is for this reason that the faith of each man takes the shape, hue and quality given to it by his stuff of being, his constituting temperament, his innate power of existence. In our young Swami Venkatesananda this faith and will is turned in all his inner and outer self, nature and action towards all that is highest, most divine most real and eternal in the spiritual mission of his Guru Deva Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, whom he adores and worships as God-incarnate. One instance will illustrate this view-point. Shortly after his arrival our young aspirant Swami was assigned the duty of conducting daily Poojah, both in the morning and evening, in the Vishwanath Mandir. Without thinking or questioning to himself how it will help him in making any progress in spiritual life, he devoted himself whole heartedly and with all the Shraddha-bhava he could summon to the unusual task. He carried it on not for a week or two or for some months, but for nearly two years, with a regularity, with a piety, with full observance of all rules and rituals which not only impressed everybody but made them recognise in him a model Pujari. Whatever he undertakes to do himself or is called upon to do by his Guru Deva, he does with all his mind and heart, sparing no trouble to himself.

On the lower plane, his Shraddha consists of doing work not dictated by desire, but by the law of right living or by his essential nature, his knowledge, his ideal and the truth he sees.

On the higher spiritual plane they are dictated by the Will of his Master and done with the mind in Yoga, i.e., as a worship without any personal attachment either to the action or to the fruit of action. In short, the Sannyas he has taken is based on the Sattwic principle of renunciation, i.e , not to withdraw from action but from the personal demand, the ego factor behind it.

Another striking characteristic feature of his spiritual life is his great power of observation, of distinguishing the real from the unreal, of the essential from the non-essential, and in this he is aided by his power of concentration of mind which he can bring to bear on any event or on any object of ethical or spiritual importance.

Our Swami is also a great wielder of pen and a famous well-recognised Chronicler and the Editor of the Yoga-Vedanta Forest University Weekly. As an Editor, he displays at times to what height his master mind can rise.

It is known that our Swami is not much interested in the Vedantic way of thinking and reasoning. Yet, when Dr. Burtt, a noted professor of Western Philosophy, gave a series of lectures on that philosophy, our Swami was able to faithfully reproduce their substance in such a methodical, systematic and lucid manner as to impress everybody that the Swami himself possessed a very comprehensive knowledge of that philosophy. Endowed with such rare basic qualities of good heart and spirit, it is no wonder that he was able to astonish everybody including his own Gurudev, by his rapid transformation into a true Sannyasi and make his life really Divine in all its bearings.

But in spite of his being so serious, so sincerely earnest and so truly ascetic in living a genuinely Divine Life, our Swami is still able to retain the full humour of a worldly life in all its glory, and wear a look so carefree and light-hearted to all outward appearances. But a keen observer will not fail to notice that his mind and heart feels pathetically horrified when he comes across an asuric display of life and rejoices whole-heartedly in coming into contact with a truly virtuous life, and he is ever prompt to applaud and adore it wherever he finds it. So he has this inherent saintly quality of pathetically overlooking the vices and adoring the virtues in a human being.

To such a saint and sage in rapid making we wish to pay our humble tribute of great admiration and reverence and love. May the Almighty bless our young Sri Swami Venkatesanandaji Maharaj, with long life, peace, Tushti, Pushti and divine Aishwarya and Kaivalya Moksha.