Testimonial: Swami Chidananda

THE POLE STAR OF MY LIFE :Maharishi Has Been Steadily Guiding Me

by Swami Chidananda


I had left a job in the corporate world and had just joined an Āshram in Mumbai. That was March 1984. Within a few months after that, in the library of Sāndeepany Sādhanālaya, the book “The Teachings of Shri Ramana Maharshi in His Own Words,” authored by Arthur Osborne came to my hands. That was a book I could not put aside. As I read it with great interest, savoring every word in it, Maharishi became the central figure of my spiritual life. That has not changed after 33 years!

His answers to our spiritual queries are to-the-point, brief and very clear. He shows wit and humor at places. He employs illustrations sometimes. Above all, his life seems to reflect his teachings. The anecdotes around him touch our hearts and their messages become helpful examples for influencing our own behavioral changes.

I visited Shri Ramanāshramam for the first time in 1989, I think. I took my mother and one or two others of my family. Everything at the campus was indeed uplifting. It was also an opportunity to learn much more about the sage. The following year I went with Shri Dwarakānāth Reddy in his car, from Bengaluru to Tiruvannāmalai. I stayed some 9 days this time. My attempts at meditation in the Old Hall (or at any other place) were not very successful. I discovered the Ashram library during this visit, and on one occasion spent two hours browsing the books. Time went fast. I realized that I was not yet ready for meditation. My intellect was active and restless.

During this visit, I also visited Yogi Rām Surat Kumār at a small house near the main Arunāchala Temple of the city. He was indeed a different picture than what we might normally expect saints to be. I noticed that people had brought cigarettes as offerings to him, rather than fruits or sweets! I asked him how we could develop detachment. He said, “How would you get mad? Move with mad people, and that will make you mad!” He laughed loudly and said, “If you want me to show two mad people at this time, I can help you. One is Swāmi Chinmayānanda and the second is Swāmi Dayānanda!”

Between 1989 and now (2017), I must have gone to Shri Ramanāshramam some 20 times. They have mostly been brief visits. In the early part of these visits, I read a lot of his literature. My lectures, then and now, have always been influenced by Maharishi and his teachings.

Swami Chinmayānandaji attracted me to spirituality, taught basic Vedānta and supplied to me a good foundation in Ādi Shankara’s advaita philosophy. I am ever grateful to him, no doubt. Maharishi however blessed me with a sense of deep understanding and great, lasting satisfaction. {J Krishnamurti later supplied a good amount of intellectual clarity on certain concepts.} When I left Chinmaya Mission in 2002, some people thought I had lost my faith in my guru. While I became somewhat informal, I must admit, there is no question of my losing the regard that I had for Swami Chinmayanandaji. The reason however for me to move away from the organization was because I had come to consider Shri Maharishi as my main source of guidance and continuous inspiration. In that sense I had certainly not lost my guru-bhakti but the inner constitution of that bhakti had changed. Even now I believe that I have much more devotion to Swamiji than many who are in the Mission.

In my childhood, my mother often said, “Your grandfather (father’s father) used to go to Tiruvannāmalai and spend time at the feet of Shri Ramana Maharishi. On one occasion, Maharishi chided him for staying too long at the Āshram and urged him to go back to his village and family!” It was thrilling for me to know that my grandfather, from a small village of coastal Karnataka, had been attached to Shri Ramana Maharishi. When I joined Chinmaya Āshram in 1984, my eldest sister Lalitā remarked, “If Ajjayya (grandfather) were here, he would have been very happy!”

The truly ennobling, wonderful guidance from Maharishi has been showing me the “true north” for long, like the Pole Star does. If the “quantum leap” has not yet taken place, it is the sad limitations of my inner equipment that have been responsible.

About Swami Chidananda

Swami Chidananda  is Fowai( Flame of who am i) Forum’s chief resource person. Drawn to the study of the Vedanta when he was a graduate student at the I.I.T.Madras in 1980, he eventually joined Swami Chinmayananda’s spiritual center in Mumbai (1984) and collected the wisdom of Bhagavad-Geetha and the Upanishads. He served the Chinmaya Mission till 2002 at several of its centers in India and in the USA. He taught the Vedanta texts to resident students at Ashrams as well as to the general public. He spoke at many academic, social and business settings both at home and abroad. His thought evolved through contacts with the teachings of many gurus, the most important among them being Sri Ramana Maharishi and Jiddu Krishnamurti.

Till recently (2003 – 2013) he held executive positions at Rajghat Education Centre, which is the chapter at Varanasi of Krishnamurti Foundation India (KFI). He was involved in certain projects of education and rural service. Since 2009, he has been a member of KFI’s Governing Body. In April this year, he vacated his quarters in Varanasi, while continuing his association with the Centre. He divides his time between Solan (Himachal Pradesh), Kudal (Maharashtra), Hyderabad and Varanasi.


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