Life of Swami Venkatesananda

40. Some Prominent Features

The Divine Life Trust Society

Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Venkatesaya

Sri Swami Harisharanananda

Swami Sadananda said that Venkatesananda can type without light. That is no wonder. Here in Sri Swamiji's Ashram, everything is done that way. The press is working without paper, the kitchen without provisions, the treasury without cash, the entire Ashram without money. From the day Swamiji Maharaj came to Rishikesh till today he has been going on in this manner, without keeping any money with him, spending that very day whatever comes on a day. It is a miracle that everything grows near him - the number of inmates, income, work and expenditure, too.

Whose 34th Birthday are we celebrating today? Not Venkatesananda's, for Venkatesananda was born in September, 1947. Not even Parthasarathi's, because Parthasarathi ceased to exist as such, in September 1947. But if it is anything, it is Parthasarathi plus Venkatesananda's 34'th Birthday, because it was Parthasarathi who was born in 1922.

There are some unique features in Parthasarathi's birthday. He was born on the Amavasya day, the dark day; and you know that it is from that day that the Sukla-Paksha or the bright fortnight commences. Darkness is ignorance; to remove this, the light of Knowledge is necessary. On this day, therefore, a light is born, to remove the darkness which was prevailing at that time.

'Parthasarathi' is Sri Krishna's Name. Sri Krishna's work was to drive the chariot of Arjuna, during the Mahabharata war. Here, too, our Parthasarathi is driving this Divine Life chariot. He has done everything that lies in his power to enhance and spread the glory of Sri Swamiji Maharaj and the Divine Life Society. You know that it was Lord Sri Krishna who protected and sustained the chariot of Arjuna, though it was burnt by the arrows of the enemies. Similarly, our Parthasarathi will guard the Society against all sorts of obstacles and impediments.

The value of Swami Venkatesananda lies in not what he appears, but in how really useful he is. This fact is illustrated by a parable. A tailor was at work. He took a piece of cloth and with a pair of shining, costly scissors, he cut the cloth into various bits. Then he put the pair of scissors at his feet. Then he took a small needle and thread and started to sew the bits of cloth, into a fine shirt. When the spell of sewing was over, he stuck the needle on to his turban. The tailor's son who was watching it asked him: 'Father, the scissors are costly and look so beautiful. But you throw them down at your feet. This needle is worth almost nothing; you can get a dozen for an anna. Yet, you place it carefully on your head itself. Is there any reason for this illogical behaviour?'

'Yes, my son. The scissors have their function, no doubt; but they only cut the cloth into bits. The needle, on the contrary, unites the bits and enhances the value of the cloth. Therefore, the needle to me is more precious and valuable. The value of a thing depends on its utility, son, not on its cost price or appearance.'

Similarly, there are two classes of people in the world - those who create dissensions and disharmony, who separate man from man, and those who bring about peace and harmony, who unite people. The former are generally the rich people, powerful politicians and kings; the latter are generally the poor devotees of God, the penniless wandering monks, the mendicants. The Lord makes use of both to carry on His function of providing the field for the evolution of individual souls. He throws down on the dust the mighty kings and millionaires who create wars and disharmony; and He keeps the poor, pious devotee over His own head. In His eyes the scale of values is entirely different. Swami Venkatesananda is a unifying factor like the needle, and his value is inestimable. His appearance is one, his reality another.

Swami Venkatesananda is very intelligent and shrewd in managing affairs and presenting things. He will not present even facts in an unpleasant way. Listen to a parable: Raja Ranjitsingh was blind in one eye; one eye-ball had been removed. Yet, he was a powerful ruler. It occurred to him that he should have a life-size painting of himself hung in the Durbar Hall. He announced a rich reward for the painter who would do the work satisfactorily. Many painters applied for the commission. He entrusted the work to a very famous painter. This painter thought that though the Raja had only one eye, he would like the painting to look beautiful and whole and therefore he painted as though the Raja had two beautiful eyes. 'What have you painted?', roared Ranjitsingh, 'this is not my portrait at all.' And he ordered that the painter be imprisoned. The work was entrusted to the next best painter. This man had heard about the fate of the previous painter. Nervously he accepted the job. He painted an almost life-like portrait, exactly as the Raja was, with one eye blind. When the Raja saw it, he turned away in disgust: 'Oh, it is horrible to look at. Put this fellow in jail.' He, too, was jailed. The work was again entrusted to a third painter. He was on the horns of a dilemma. He had heard what had happened to the previous painters. He prayed to God for a way out of this danger. He received Light from Above. He set to work. He painted an action-picture in which Ranjitsingh was shooting a lion. The lion was trying to pounce upon him and he was aiming the gun at the lion. Naturally the eye with which he could see was taking the aim, and the other was therefore closed. The painter had presented the truth, without offending the aesthetic sense of the Raja. The Raja rewarded him with costly presents.

Always use your intelligence and be tactful. Even if you have to tell an unpleasant truth - and you cannot keep quiet, tell it in such a way that it may be pleasant to all concerned. Then you will be successful, without swerving from truth, and truthful without courting failure. Swami Venkatesananda possesses a tremendous knack in presenting truths in a pleasant way.

Swami Venkatesananda is an ardent devotee of Sri Swamiji Maharaj. He is to some extent like the Pandit who praised as well as censured brinjal in front of the king. A king held a brinjal in his hand, and as he was in a pleasant mood, began to admire its beauty. The Court Pandit was with him. The king said: 'Oh Pandit. How beautiful is this brinjal.' 'Yes Maharaja,' replied the Pandit, 'Look at its lovely colour. It is like the color of the peacock's neck. How can I adequatly describe the beauty of the grand cap that the brinjal wears on its head? It is like a splendid crown that a Raja wears on his head. So lovely. So lovely.' The next day the Raja ate a dish prepared of brinjal and got stomach-ache. He remarked 'Oh. This brinjal is very bad.' The Pandit joined in the discussion and said: 'Certainly, Maharaj, it is very bad. Therefore its name is Begun - without virtue, and has ugly colour and has a nail driven on its head.' The Maharaja was amused. He asked, 'Oh Pandit. Yesterday you extolled the greatness of the brinjal. Now you have begun to condemn it outright. How can you do so?' The Pandit replied: 'Maharaja, I am your Majesty's humble servant and not the servant of the brinjal. You admired; so I admired. Now you are condemning it, so I also condemn it.'
Swami Venkatesananda is all 'Yes' to Sri Swamiji's 'Yes', and 'No' to Sri Swamiji's 'No'. Great surrender indeed.

Venkatesananda always speaks sweetly; he displays great tactfulness in speaking to others. He never utters harsh words. He nicely adapts himself to people and circumstances. He is ready to play any role assigned to him by Sri Swamiji. He dressed himself as a lady and assumed the pen-name 'Venkateswari' for the purpose of writing an article in 'Women's Light and Guide', in which his picture is printed in a woman's dress.

He always tries to unite people and to bring about peace. Thread and needle, borax and saint always bring things and people together; shovel, axe and evil-minded men separate people and bring about disharmony. Venkatesananda belongs to the former category.

He is patient, tolerant, forbearing and humble. So he is regarded as great.