Brief Background

During March 1966, Sri Chakrapani Mishra (who was working as a Professor and researcher in the University of Agriculture and Technology at Bhubaneswar) and his wife Smt. Arunabala Mishra were initiated by Swami Vishuddhananda Maharaj following the latter's initiation into the Samnyas order at Bhubaneswar. Sri Mishra and Smt. Mishra had been sincere devotees of Sri Sri Thakur ever since their childhood and hence this initiation intensified and consolidated their spiritual virtues, especially of Sri Mishra who had already acquired, by his earlier yogic practices, grace and blessings of Sri Sri Thakur. Sri Mishra's Gurudev proposed and wished, during the terminal years of his life, that he would pass away in peace if the former consented to enter into the Samnyas order after his retirement from worldly life and succeed him to continue the spiritual activity in the legacy of Sri Sri Thakur.

Initiation into Samnyas

Surprisingly the succession of events and the developments that came to pass were such as if ordained by some unseen hand and three months before he laid away his mortal body, Swami Vishuddhananda Saraswati initiated both Sri Mishra and Smt. Mishra into the Samnyas order and renamed them as Swami Chetanananda Saraswati and Ma Amritamayee Saraswati, respectively.

The Disciple and the Master

A soil scientist, teacher and researcher (trained in the U.S) all his life, despite being a practicing spiritualist and disciple of his Master, Chetananandaji was still feeling incompetent to succeed his Master and accept the responsibilities to carry forward the spiritual legacy. This also had been the case with his Master himself who was feeling hesitant to get initiated by his own Master Sri Sri Thakur Nigamanada Saraswati. Pointing to the chain of events which brought about a complete transformation of his life due to the touch of his gracious Master and to how he was able to push ahead his Master's mission despite his seeming inability, he exhorted Swami Chetanananda Saraswati not to forget that the latter indeed is his Master's servant. The Master willing, he would get his own work going the way he desired despite the successor disciple's imperfections, like Sri Krishna asking Arjuna in the Bhagavadgeeta:

Be thou merely the occasion, O, Savyasachin (Arjuna).(XI-33)

God (in this case, the Master) decides and ordains all things and Arjuna the disciple is only to act as an instrument.

Mystic literature stressed on the fact that between the living perfect Master and the Lord there is no difference. Having acquired transcendental consciousness the great Jesus Christ therefore declared "I and my Father are one!".

Love for the Master

Swami Chetanananda Saraswati, in his turn, confirmed, like many of his predecessors, that love for the merciful Master attracts the disciple to him. And because the Master is one form of the Lord himself, he is automatically attracted to the Lord. By His grace as well as by practicing devotion to Him, according to his instructions, he transforms himself, "Just as the water of a stream loses its identity when it is poured into the Ganges (or the ocean), just as (they say) a piece of iron turns into gold by the touch of the philosopher's stone"; similarly, the disciple turns into the master himself by the touch of the master. Such is the state of the devoted disciple who never likes to admit, although, in reality, is one with his Master.

One may quote from the statements of mystics to describe this altered state of consciousness of a true disciple: "Those eyes are very rare indeed through which pearls of tears are shed in the memory of the beloved Master". In form of poetry, the same idea is in the following:

"Can an Ocean be contained in the small jar?
Can the Master be God?
Can a man be the Lord?
They say it is imagination, let them say so".

(Sharmad, the mystic)

Tips to the Aspirants

Swami Chetanananda Maharaj has nothing new to offer to the disciples other than what has been very admirably said and passed on by his preceding Masters to the aspirants of the present day, in general. He suggests that the aspirants should initially deliberate on and treat the material world as non-real and being guided by his Master, attempt to experience the oneness of the individual self and the universal self as one supreme reality through meditation. The Bhagavadgeeta also declares,

"For those in whom ignorance (false assumption that the world is real) is destroyed by wisdom, for them wisdom, like the sun, lights up the supreme self as the absolute reality" (V-16).

And,

"The holy men whose sins are destroyed, whose doubts are cut asunder, whose minds are disciplined, and who rejoice in doing good to all creatures, attain to the beatitude of God"(V-25).

Then only the aspirants can regard the unreal world to be part of the supreme self that is capable of acting as knowledge, bliss and love incarnate (such as: Sri Rama, Sri Krishna, the Buddha, the Christ or a Sadguru) now tangiable to mortal devotees such as the Gopis and others who act as partners in His endless and blissful sport. Hence His realised devotees should love and serve the unreal world inasmuch as they now know it to be also divine and a marvellous sporting field for the alltime and allround Champion, commonly known as 'God'.

However, the Swamiji feels that the transitoriness of the created world would not bother one who is not yet disillusioned or frustrated attempting to experience sense-based pleasures. The Bhagavadgeeta likewise declares,

"Whatever pleasures are born of contacts (with objects) are only sources of sorrow, they have a beginning and an end, O son of Kunti (Arjuna), no wise man delights in them" (V-22).

On the other hand, the fortunate one who has been able to enjoy life to the full and considers that the highest form of enjoyment comes from meditation and making others happy through service and sacrifice, may strive to attain consummation as a Buddha.

Other important teachings of Swami Chetananda Saraswati

1)     Teachings (Upadesha vani) of a Sadguru constitute Goddess Saraswati - the embodiment of divine speech. Primary duty of the disciple is to recognize the power principle that resides in the Guru's body and functions as medium of his speech. The disciple then should carefully listen to, deliberate upon His teachings and translate those into action in life.

2)     It may be several births before one enjoys the benefit of self-realization. Coming to know this may discourage a disciple. However one need not lose hope. Elevation of consciousness is indeed equivalent to a new birth. During one lifetime there may be more than one such elevation steps. In the yogic literature this is known as 'Granthibheda' or piercing of the knot (or specific chakras in the body) leading to revelation. Through grace of the Guru the duration between births is thus shortened. One has therefore to repose faith in the Guru, which will surely lead to such up-gradation and hence the time gap between births would be minimized.

3)     Some disciples feel that even after the lapse of a good length of time following initiation nothing substantial happened despite performance of meditation, 'japa' etc. One has to keep in mind, however, that meditation doesn't mean sitting down with eyes closed. In such a situation all the worldly thoughts may disturb the aspirant. Meditation is an opportunity to be in intimate contact with the spirit of the Guru. True meditation cannot be possible without deep concentration of the mind, which can be achieved only when the aspirant's focus is one whom he loves the most. Therefore a devotee has rightly prayed, "May the kind of attachment one naturally has for the material world hold good in the case of the spiritual master".

Never get despaired by the thought that no spiritual progress is being made. With sustained practice of meditation, even if sloppily done, the Guru's grace is bound to descend one day and confer on you the much sought after fulfillment. When that moment arrives is best known to the Guru. Depending upon the disciple's state of mind, aptitude and resolve, the Guru will absorb him into his fold and employ him for the spiritual welfare of mankind.

4)     Guru's teachings are based on His realization of the ultimate truth - the Brahman. In order to catch their import one must develop a spirit of enquiry. Impressions carried through many births generate such a spirit. On the other hand, long standing service to the Sadguru also helps the disciple to visualize Guru's real intentions behind His instructions.

5)     It is hard to comprehend the meaning of transcendental love without having the prior realization of the individual self as the one and the same as the over self (Paramatman). The latter is not like an ordinary objective thought. The individual's little ego must dissolve before one can comprehend what transcendental love or 'Leela' or 'Bhava' is. But the ego persists as long as attraction for sense bound pleasure and body consciousness persists.

6)     What you want to get or what you are looking for must be carefully identified before the real quest can begin. Today you want something and tomorrow something else - that is how time passes away. Not knowing fully well what you really cherish, for what and for whom would you sacrifice? The so-called love for God (or attaining to God) ought to be based on spiritual knowledge. Divine love, which is acquired after attaining to such knowledge, is indeed transcendental and blissful.

7)     Being in the presence of the Guru is indeed equivalent to the 'so-called Brajabas' - living literally in the mythical abode of 'Braja' (or Golokadham) belonging to Lord Sri Krishna and his companions (on this earth). Once such a notion takes firm roots, the disciple can realize that whatever happens centering round the Guru is indeed His 'Leela'!

8)     The self (Atman) resides in all creatures - in the plants, flowers, fruits, the sky, the wind, animals, birds, insects and germs and even the stationary as well as in the moving objects. Such a realization makes even the lifeless appear as sentient. This is akin to the realization of the ultimate reality.

9)     An oil or kerosene lamp is burning and emitting light. Another sits there with oil, wick etc but doesn't emit light. It needs to be kindled in order that it emits light. The power of the Guru is similar. One cannot attain to spiritual enlightenment without the kindling by means of His power.

10) Who are you? What is your real identity? If you can, identify yourself as Guru's servant. The greatest sacrifice is to forget your formal worldly identity and redefine it in this manner. That will help you get rid of your ego, feel relaxed and be peaceful.

Specific Activities

Following Chetananandaji's first initiation as a householder, his Master Swami Vishuddhananda Maharaj had asked him to compile the latter's life history based on his diary notes, which he did. The book (Bholara Atmasmriti) was written and published first in Oriya language and then translated into Bengali and later into English (vide end of narrative for address of publisher). Presently Swamiji in association with Ma Amritamayee Saraswati is guiding the many past and new disciples, managing the principal shrine - Sri Sri Nigamananda Math (Temple) and the Samadhi temples (later built on the graves of Swami Vishuddhananda Maharaj and Mata Anandamayee Saraswati) at Jharboni together with the branch Ashrams established or proposed (vide infra) by his Gurudev Swami Vishuddhananda Maharaaj. Round the day and the year various rituals and festivities are performed in the Math and the Ashrams. Sri Sri Guru Maharaj's birth anniversary is organised every year by rotation in different places. A number of prayer group meetings of the devotees are also arranged periodically as an ongoing activity. Participation of the disciples in all such activities as well as the practice of alms-giving (Mustibhiksha) are intended to maintain the legacy of the Master and is considered as an important step that can purify their minds and help in their spiritual advancement. This has been, in general, the standing instruction of the past Masters passed on to posterity.

Swami Vishuddhananda Seva Pratisthan

In a spacious land site donated earlier to his Gurudev at Tandipur, Dist. Ganjam in Orissa, Swami Chetanananda Maharaaj has founded a new branch Ashram, Sri Sri Nigamananda Ashram early 1998, with its socio-educational wing known by the name of Swami Vishuddhananda Seva Pratisthan. This wing envisages an integrated and wholesome development of village sites such as Tandipur based on spiritual philosophy as preached by Sri Sri Thakur Nigamanandaji, and his disciple Swami Vishudhanandaji as laid down broadly in Nigamananda Ashram (Math) deed of Trust (Registered, 1984). As a part of such activity, a facility for imparting spiritually oriented education in the primary stage, a school known as Saraswat Vidya Mandir has been started since July, 1998. Community welfare to be brought about through creating facilities for formal, moral and vocational education of young children and grown-up village lads is being proposed. An orphanage, an old persons home, community prayer halls, Yoga-meditation centre for physical and mental well being are proposed to be located adjoining the hills under natural forest cover. Sri Sri Nigamananda Ashram unit has already come up and is functioning as the nerve centre for planning and implementation of the proposed programmes and associated activities (vide proposed plan outlay given below). It is proposed to replicate such efforts in the other Ashrams, including the main Math at Jharboni where a Rishi Vidyalaya of the kind Sri Sri Thakur once started in the Saraswat Math premises in Kokilamukha, Assam is being envisaged. Translation of Sri Sri Thakur's books into English is proposed to be undertaken in the near future.

Those who are interested to learn more about the life and legacy of Sri Sri Thakur or make contribution (charity) of any kind for their own well-being and for the development of the Ashrams at Tandipur and other places are requested to contact :

Swami Chetanananda Saraswati, President and Trustee
Sri Sri Nigamananda Math and Ashram Foundations
At - Jharboni, P.O. Amalagora 721121
Dist. Midnapur, West Bengal, INDIA
Ph. 91 3227 65458
E-mail
:
dhanadam@yahoo.com

 

List of publications in English

The details of the books about Sri Sri Thakur and Swami Vishuddhananda Saraswati Maharaj presently available in English are as under:

Sl.

Title

Author

Publisher

1

Sadguru Nigamananda

Mani Bagchi

Mahanta and President, Assam Bangiya Saraswat Matha
At/PO: Halisahar
24 - Parganas
West Bengal, India

2

In Quest of Myself

Lokanath Saran Panda

Nigamananda Ashram
Jharboni
PO: Amalagora 721121
Dt. Midnapur
West Bengal, India

3

The Divine Universal Gospels of Sri Nigamananda

Bijoy Kumar Giri

Dr. Amitav Giri
Sonoscan
Nayabazar
Balasore 756001
Orissa, India