Multifaceted Gurus of Bharat

God! God! God!
by Paramahansa Yogananda (1893 – 1952)

From the depths of slumber,
As I ascend the spiral stairways of wakefulness,
I will whisper:
God! God! God!

Thou art the food, and when I break my fast
Of nightly separation from Thee,
I will taste Thee, and mentally say:
God! God! God!

No matter where I go, the spotlight of my mind
Will ever keep turning on Thee;
And in the battle din of activity, my silent war-cry will be:
God! God! God!

When boisterous storms of trials shriek,
And when worries howl at me,
I will drown their noises, loudly chanting:
God! God! God!

When my mind weaves dreams
With threads of memories,
Then on that magic cloth will I emboss:
God! God! God!

Every night, in time of deepest sleep,
My peace dreams and calls, Joy! Joy! Joy!
And my joy comes singing evermore:
God! God! God!

In waking, eating, working, dreaming, sleeping,
Serving, meditating, chanting, divinely loving,
My soul will constantly hum, unheard by any:
God! God! God!

Following is a brief write-up on some great Gurus that India has seen over the last century

 Swami Muktananda

Swami Muktananda (1908 – 1982) began the life of a sadhu, a wandering mendicant in search of spiritual fulfillment, at an unusually early age. Though as a young man Muktananda gained recognition for his yogic attainments, Swami Muktananda often said that his spiritual journey didn’t truly begin until he received shaktipath, spiritual initiation, from the holy man
Bhagavan Nityananda
. It was then that Muktananda’s spiritual energy, kundalini, was awakened, and he was drawn into profound states of meditation. Nine years later Muktananda attained the state of God-realization.

 Mahavatar Babaji

 Mahavatar Babaji is the name given to an Indian saint by Lahiri Mahasaya and several of his disciples who met Mahavatar Babaji between 1861 and 1935. Some of these meetings were described by Paramahansa Yogananda in his book Autobiography of a Yogi (1946), including a first hand telling of Yogananda’s own meeting with Mahavatar Babaji. Another first hand account was given by Sri Yukteswar Giri in his book The Holy Science. All of these accounts, along with additional meetings with Mahavatar Babaji, are described in various biographies of those mentioned by Yogananda.

Paramahansa Yogananda, in his Autobiography of a Yogi, described Mahavatar Babaji’s role on earth:

The Mahavatar is in constant communion with Christ; together they send out vibrations of redemption, and have planned the spiritual technique of salvation for this age. The work of these two fully-illumined masters–one with the body, and one without it–is to inspire the nations to forsake suicidal wars, race hatreds, religious sectarianism, and the boomerang-evils of materialism. Babaji is well aware of the trend of modern times, especially of the influence and complexities of Western civilization, and realizes the necessity of spreading the self-liberations of yoga equally in the West and in the East.

Swami Vivekananda 

Swami Vivekananda (Bengali: স্বামী িবেবকানন্দ, Shami Bibekānondo) (January 12, 1863–July 4, 1902), born Narendranath Dutta was the chief disciple of the 19th century mystic Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and the founder of Ramakrishna Mission. He is considered a key figure in the introduction of Hindu philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga in Europe and America[3] and is also credited with raising interfaith awareness, bringing Hinduism to the status of a world religion during the end of the 19th century. Vivekananda is considered to be a major force in the revival of Hinduism in modern India. He is best known for his inspiring speech beginning with “Sisters and Brothers of America”, through which he introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of the World’s Religions at Chicago in 1893.

Vivekananda believed that the essence of Hinduism was best expressed in the Vedanta philosophy, based on the interpretation of Adi Shankara. He summarized the Vedanta’s teachings as follows;

Each soul is potentially divine.

The goal is to manifest this Divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal.

Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy—by one, or more, or all of these—and be free.

This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details.

So long as even a single dog in my country is without food my whole religion is to feed it and serve it, anything excluding that is unreligious.

Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached.

Education is the manifestation of perfection already in man.

Religion is the manifestation of divinity already in man.

Serving man is serving God.

According to Vivekananda, an important teaching he received from Ramakrishna was that “Jiva is Shiva” (each individual is divinity itself).This became his Mantra, and he coined the concept of daridra narayana seva – the service of God in and through (poor) human beings. 

Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa

Sri Ramakrishna, who was born in 1836 and passed away in 1886, represents the very core of the spiritual realizations of the seers and sages of India. His whole life was literally an uninterrupted contemplation of God. He reached a depth of God-consciousness that transcends all time and place and has a universal appeal. Seekers of God of all religions feel irresistibly drawn to his life and teachings. Sri Ramakrishna, as a silent force, influences the spiritual thought currents of our time.

His message was his God-consciousness. When God-consciousness falls short, traditions become dogmatic and oppressive and religious teachings lose their transforming power. At a time when the very foundation of religion, faith in God, was crumbling under the relentless blows of materialism and skepticism, Sri Ramakrishna, through his burning spiritual realizations, demonstrated beyond doubt the reality of God and the validity of the time-honored teachings of all the prophets and saviors of the past, and thus restored the falling edifice of religion on a secure foundation.

Sri Ramakrishna faithfully practiced the spiritual disciplines of different religions and came to the realization that all of them lead to the same goal. Thus he declared, “As many faiths, so many paths.” The paths vary, but the goal remains the same. Harmony of religions is not uniformity; it is unity in diversity. It is not a fusion of religions, but a fellowship of religions based on their common goal — communion with God. This harmony is to be realized by deepening our individual God-consciousness.

Sri Ramana Maharshi

 The Scriptures tell us that it is as difficult to trace the path a sage pursues as it is to draw a line marking the course a bird takes in the air while on its wings. Most humans have to be content with a slow and laborious journey towards the goal. But a few are born as adepts in flying non-stop to the common home of all beings – the supreme Self. The generality of mankind takes heart when such a sage appears. Though it is unable to keep pace with him, it feels uplifted in his presence and has a foretaste of the felicity compared to which the pleasures of the world pale into nothing.

Countless people who went to Tiruvannamalai during the life-time of Maharshi Sri Ramana had this experience. They saw in him a sage without the least touch of worldliness, a saint of matchless purity, a witness to the eternal truth of Vedanta. It is not often that a spiritual genius of the magnitude of Sri Ramana visits this earth. But when such an event occurs, the entire humanity gets benefited and a new era of hope opens before it.

Paramhansa Bhagwan Nityananda 

Nityananda was born just before the beginning of the twentieth century (about 1896) and lived until 1961. He was a Sat Purush, or Antarjnani, an enlightened being who was always in the Atmic state, even as a child.

He wandered widely around the North of India and the Himalayas for six years. Several sources indicate that he was known in the Himalayas as a great Kundalini Yogi.

In 1936 he moved to the Ganeshpuri area outside Bombay. He stayed near the Bhimeshwar temple and for the most part his travels were behind him.

Some statements he made are very enlightening:

“Once one is established in infinite consciousness, one becomes silent, and though knowing everything, goes about as if he does not know anything. Though he might be doing a lot of things in several places, to all outward appearance, he will remain as if he does nothing.”

“It (the state of mind) should be like a lotus leaf, which though in water, with its stem in the mud and flower above, is yet untouched by both. Similarly, the mind should be kept untainted by the mud of desires and the water of distractions, even though engaged in worldly activities.”

“The Ocean has plenty of water. It is the size of the container brought to collect it that determines the quantity taken”

Paramahansa Yogananda

In the hundred years since the birth of Paramahansa Yogananda, this beloved world teacher has come to be recognized as one of the greatest emissaries to the West of India’s ancient wisdom. His life and teachings continue to be a source of light and inspiration to people of all races, cultures and creeds. 

Yogananda emphasized the underlying unity of the world’s great religions, and taught universally applicable methods for attaining direct personal experience of God. To serious students of his teachings he taught the soul-awakening techniques of Kriya Yoga, initiating more than 100,000 men and women during his thirty years in the West.

Yogananda’s life story, Autobiography of a Yogi, was published in 1946 (and significantly expanded by him in subsequent editions). A perennial best seller, the book has been in continuous publication since it first appeared and has been translated into many languages. It is widely regarded as a modern spiritual classic.

Osho (Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh)

 Osho, born Chandra Mohan Jain (Hindi: चन्द्र मोहन जैन) (11 December 1931 – 19 January 1990), also known as Acharya Rajneesh from the 1960s onwards, calling himself Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh during the 1970s and 1980s and taking the name Osho in 1989, was an Indian mystic and spiritual teacher who garnered an international following. His syncretic teachings emphasize the importance of meditation, awareness, love, celebration, creativity and humour – qualities that he viewed as being suppressed by adherence to static belief systems, religious tradition and socialisation. His teachings have had a notable impact on Western New Age thought, and their popularity has increased markedly since his death.

Osho’s teachings were delivered through his discourses.  Osho taught that every human being is a potential Buddha, with the capacity for enlightenment. According to him, everyone is capable of experiencing unconditional love and of responding rather than reacting to life, but he suggested that a person’s ego usually prevents them from enjoying this experience. The ego, in Osho’s teaching, represents the social conditioning and constraints a person has accumulated since birth, creating false needs that are in conflict with the real self. The problem, he said, is how to bypass the ego so that man’s innate being can flower; how to move from the periphery to the centre.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (Hindi: महर्षि महेश योगी) born Mahesh Prasad Varma (January 12, 1914 – February 5, 2008) developed the Transcendental Meditation technique, and was the leader or “guru” of the Transcendental Meditation movement, that has been defined as a new religious movement. Varma’s given name was Mahesh, while maharishi and yogi are honorifics. Varma was known as “Maharishi Mahesh Yogi” beginning around the year 1960. His devotees referred to him as “his holiness”. He became known as the “giggling guru” for his high-pitched laughter during television interviews.

When he came to the U.S., his movement was renamed Transcendental Meditation. He lectured, taught the Transcendental Meditation technique, and established administrative centers where practitioners could gather for meetings in his absence.

Deepak Chopra was “one of the Maharishi’s top assistants before he launched his own career”.

Jiddu Krishnamurti

 

 Jiddu Krishnamurti was born on 11 May 1895 in Madanapalle, a small town in south India. He and his brother were adopted in their youth by Dr Annie Besant, then president of the Theosophical Society. Dr Besant and others proclaimed that Krishnamurti was to be a world teacher whose coming the Theosophists had predicted.

The core of Krishnamurti’s teaching is contained in the statement he made in 1929 when he said, “Truth is a pathless land”. Man cannot come to it through any organization, through any creed, through any dogma, priest or ritual, not through any philosophical knowledge or psychological technique. He has to find it through the mirror of relationship, through the understanding of the contents of his own mind, through observation and not through intellectual analysis or introspective dissection.

Total negation is the essence of the positive. When there is negation of all those things that thought has brought about psychologically, only then is there love, which is compassion and intelligence.

Deepak Chopra

A global force in the field of human empowerment, Dr. Deepak Chopra is the prolific author of more than fifty-five books, including fourteen bestsellers on mind-body health, quantum mechanics, spirituality, and peace. Dr. Chopra’s books have been published in more than eighty-five languages. His New York Times bestseller Peace Is the Way won a prestigious Quill Award, and The Book of Secrets was awarded the grand prize at the 2005 Nautilus Book Awards; his bestselling novel, Jesus: A Story of Enlightenment, was released in 2008. He is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and Washington Post On Faith and contributes regularly to Intent.com and the Huffington Post.

There are many more Gurus not mentioned here who reside in the heart of their devotees. We pay our heartfelt gratitude to all of them on this auspicious occasion of Gurupurnima.

Jai Guru Dev….

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