Reminiscing Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji during Guru Purnima in 2020
Prakasarao Velagapudi, PhD
Frisco, Texas USA
Jai Guru Datta.
It has been a customary event to invite Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji to the USA for many years and welcome him to Hanuman Temple and other Centers. The year 2020 is unusual as predicted by His Holiness in his Biography. Politically, culturally, socially, and health-wise, Coronavirus like a thousand-headed cobra, is kneeling the whole world to the ground. Altered our lives, changed our lifestyles, restricted our movements, and imposed quarantine. Nature has no match for technology, inventions, and intelligence. Millions of people were infected with Covid-19 and more than half a million people lost their lives. The Coronavirus is gripping the mankind, altering their habits, making our normal life into an abnormal life.
Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji with all his love, compassion, passion, kindness, benevolence, magnanimity, and nobility, He has been giving pravachanams via the internet to millions of his devotees across the globe to make sure their spirits are uplifted, their depression is reduced, their anxiety is minimized, their loneliness is compensated, their faces brighten up, and their smiles are restored. With the vibrations created by daily His activities and special events to engage his devotees and to comfort them, he is creating a safety net around them to make sure that they protected from Corona Mahankali across the globe. Sri Swamiji has been entertaining and illuminating his devotees with unbelievable lectures on various topics, soul-stirring bhajans, and incredible moral stories only to uplift the spirits. His compassion is matchless, unfathomable, indescribable, and incomprehensible.
On this Guru Purnima Day, let us all remember, recollect, reminisce, and recall the greatness, grandeur, magnificence, splendor, and majesty of Sri Ganapathy Sachidananda Swamiji. The full-moon day of the month of Ashada is considered as an exceedingly auspicious of Guru Purnima. It is on this day we celebrate Vyasa Purnima to remember the great sage Sri Vyasa Bhagavan. He has done an unforgettable and remarkable contribution to all mankind by editing the four Vedas, writing all eighteen major Puranas, authoring an incredible Mahabharata, and even penning Bhagavata Purana. In fact, we can celebrate his contribution not by just remembering this great soul but by reading, imbibing, and digesting voluminous literature he compiled. Knowing that it is very difficult for us to spend that much time to read and soak in the literature, Sri Swamiji has shouldered the full responsibility of educating all of his devotees in simple, serene, and sacred lectures sparing us from the unsurmountable task of learning from so many books.
Who is Guru?
It is my privilege and honor to express my appreciation about the importance of Guru and Guru Tattva. Sri Swamiji has been trekking the world for more than five decades bestowing his unconditional compassion, conferring absolute grace, granting infinite love, and imparting limitless kindness. His invaluable discourses, his abiding interest in chanting Hanuman Chalisa, his enduring passion in preserving Vedic rituals by conducting of Maha Yagnas, his invaluable meditation camps to benefit innumerable devotees, his sole championing efforts to propagate Bhagavad Gita, his long-lasting desire to revive Healing and Meditation music to benefit humanity, and his undaunted and unmatched interest in touching the hearts of Children are very hard to explain, difficult to understand, and tough to grasp. As a Guru and Sadguru, Sri Swamiji has been advising, prodding, guiding, counseling, chiding, molding the personalities of his devotees. Whether in the physical presence or in the subtle formlessness, Sri Swamiji gets connected with his devotees to help them remove the obstacles and in his formless shakti, he is felt by many of his devotees. There is a difference between a Guru and a Sadguru. A Guru is one who is well versed in scriptures and imparts correct knowledge. Sadguru not only teaches the correct knowledge but what he preaches is complete and weighty.
Gurus are considered more real than Gods. Devotees can see, hear, touch, feel, absorb, learn, experience, and understand the physical presence while God is beyond the reach of many devotees’ visualization. Guru is God in the human form. As stated in Brahmanda Purana:
"Guru is Shiva sans his three eyes,
Vishnu sans his four arms
Brahma sans his four heads.
He is Parama Shiva himself in human form”
There is no difference between God and the Guru. From a devotee's point of view, Guru is God. Because of the grace of Guru only, he can experience and reach God. Ramakrishna Paramahansa says that Guru is Sachchidananda – Sat means truth that never changes; Chit to mean Consciousness and Ananda to mean bliss. “Satchidananda alone is the Guru. If a man in the form of a guru awakens spiritual consciousness in you, then know for certain that it is God the Absolute who has assumed that human form for your sake. The guru is like a companion who leads you by the hand. After the realization of God, one loses the distinction between the guru and the disciple. ‘That creates a very difficult situation; there the guru and the disciple do not see each other.”
Sri Swamiji is Sachchidananda and a Sadguru who is defined as one who is egoless, selfless, humble, wise, God Conscious, non-dual, spiritual, truthful, and delusion less. He is always soaked in the bliss and supreme consciousness. He possesses countless Siddhis (powers), but rarely exhibited. Name, fame, wealth, and power would not attract him. Neither glamor nor glory will distract him. In the Guru Tattva book, Sri Swami Sivananda declares, “Mere study of books cannot make one a Guru. One who has studied the Vedas and who has direct knowledge of Atman through Anubhava can only be enrolled as a Guru. A Jivanmukta or a liberated sage is the real Guru or spiritual preceptor. He is the Satguru. He is identical with Brahman or the Supreme Self. He is a Knower of Brahman.”
Ramana Maharishi (1879-1950) says, "God will take the form of a guru and appear to the devotee, to teach him Truth so that his mind gains strength and can turn inward. With meditation, the mind is purified yet further and eventually remains still without the least ripple. That stillness is the Self. The guru is both exterior and interior: from the exterior he gives a push to the mind to turn inward and from the interior he pulls the mind towards the Self. That is grace. See? There is no difference between God, guru, and Self.
In Daasabodha, Sant Ramadasa described the true guru: "He alone can be called a Guru who has no desires left in him, and whose determination is as steady as a mountain...He must have extreme dispassion, and his actions should be beyond censure. With him, the spiritual discussion must be a constant pastime. He uplifts the world and becomes an exemplar for the various kinds of Bhakti...Knowledge, dispassionateness, devotion, rightful conduct, Sadhana, spiritual discussion, meditation, morality, justice, and the observation of the mean constitute the chief characteristics of a Guru (V, 2, 44-53).
Sant Ravidas praised the greatness of Guru and underscores the importance of being fealty (loyal) to one's own guru. He says:
Project the guru's image in your heart
Hold it ever steady in your thought
Purity, charity, making yourself a name
These only bolster your pride,
But to utter the name of the guru in your heart
Will make you unshakably wise ….
As Per Chandra Jnana Agama, "Only the guru is father, mother, and brother. He is also a friend, well-wisher, and a guide. Thus, everything should be surrendered to him. The disciple fully surrendered to the guru, sees him as God, and then becomes God himself."
Meerabai, who dedicated her life to devotion to Lord Krishna, composed many ecstatic songs which are still treasured in India. She removed herself from the royal surroundings and surrendered herself to her beloved God. She composed hundreds of songs extolling the virtues of Lord Krishna. In fact, she would worship and play with the image of Lord Krishna drawing the ire of her husband and the people in the kingdom. We can see how much she was devoted to looking at the poem she composed.
"If by bathing daily God could be realized
would I be a whale in the deep.
If by eating roots and fruits He could be known
would I choose the form of a goat.
If the counting of rosaries uncovered Him
I would say my prayers on mammoth beads.
If bowing before stone images unveiled Him
A flinty mountain I would humbly worship.
If by drinking milk the Lord could be imbibed
calves and children would know Him.
If abandoning one's wife would summon God
Would not thousands be eunuchs?
Mirabai knows that to find the Divine One
The only indispensable is Love."
Guru Concept is central to Sikhism. Guru Nanak was the founder of this religion. Ten successive gurus imparted the true knowledge from God and eventually, Guru Granth Sahib became the main scriptures to be followed by all the adherents. Guru Gobind Singh instructed his followers to regard it as their Guru. Guru Granth Sahib is a collection of devotional hymns and poetry that proclaims God lays stress on meditation on the True Guru (God) and lays down moral and ethical rules for the development of the soul, spiritual salvation, and unity with God.
Adi Granth describes the joy of meeting a guru:
Meeting the guru brings joy to the mind
Like the earth when renewed by the rains
Everything looks so fresh and so green,
As the ponds and the lakes overflow.
The being within is infused with the Truth,
Lake the madder-plat dyeing things red,
The Lotus of Truth comes to bloom in the mind,
Which the Word of the guru makes glad.
Service to Guru
reap the benefits of Sri Swamiji, a devotee must be mindful of his responsibility and think of himself as a servant. serve Guru, one should give up ego, lust, and attachment. One should consider service to Guru is service to humanity. Service to Guru opens up unlimited opportunities to develop spirituality, expands the heart, removes the hardships, keeps the mind alert, destroys jealousy and hatred, develop virtuous values, and experience immeasurable joy and bliss. It is worth remembering Sant Kabir's message:
Only he is a real servant,
Who is only concerned with rendering service,
Who bears- both-pleasure and pain quite unperturbed? (Calm)
And continues ever to render service.
A good servant waits patiently at his master’s door,
Bears insult and rebuff with great forbearance,
Hoping that someday the Master will show him a favor.
He never leaves the door, is never unfaithful.
A servant's duty is to serve,
Serve day and night, and night and day, declares Kabir.
But a faithless servant Dare not face his Master.
O Kabir, we all need a Master,
To help us travel on the higher path.
But the Master has no need of us.
Remember, you can never be a real servant,
As long as you -are attached to the body,
And think of its pains and pleasures.
To understand the philosophy and his mission if Sri Swamiji, one has to look at all his tireless and vigorous efforts to elevate his devotees to a higher level and see how they help them to cross the samsara (the cycle of birth and death). Guru Tattva means the essence, message, principle, and philosophy of Guru. It is beyond the traditional role of a guru who removed the darkness or ignorance. A guru works at the external and worldly level solving the riddle of life. Teaches them to fertile their mind and broaden their knowledge. It is through lectures, discourses, personal advice, a guru can help the disciple remove the ignorance. Guru teaches you to be spiritual while Sadguru makes you spiritual. Guru will tell you how to be divine; Sadguru makes us to be divine. Guru tells you how to attain vairagya; Sadguru leads you to vairagya. Guru tells you how to enjoy the bliss; Sadguru soaks you in Ananta Ananda (eternal bliss).
Sadguru is the one who helps his disciples get direct the spiritual practice sometimes with their knowledge and sometimes without letting the disciple know about it.
Guru Tattvam helps us to travel from a relative state of ignorance of Self to self-awareness, self-consciousness, or Self Realization where one basks in joy, bliss, and happiness. Here Guru Tattva teaches us to break the bonds of worldly desires; remove the dual nature of the cosmos; and transcend the worldly matters to experience the spiritual nature. It through the word, sight, touch, smile, and a nod can export one to the spiritual realm. Through this message one’s body consciousness yield to cosmic consciousness. It makes one realize the divine nature that is inherent in every human being. It helps one to cut the ties that are knotted to the pillars of attachments and desires. How can Guru propel one to a higher level where they will experience divine bliss? Because a Sadguru is a realized soul who basks in bliss, peace, joy, happiness, and ecstasy. One has to be qualified to make somebody else qualify. Candlelight only can light another candle. Only a realized soul can make others realize their potential to be realized.
Bhakti and Devotee
Full, undivided, and unwavering devotion to Sri Swamiji garner his blessings, his protection, and his security. By bestowing his blessings, Sri Swamiji has helped so many devotees who happened to find themselves in pitiable circumstances. Kularnava Tantra says, “Devotion to the satguru is the one main prescription. Without this, all learning, all austerity, family status, and observances are useless. They are only decorations, pleasing to the worldly eye.”
Totakacharya will provide as an example of how devotion to Guru can gain his blessings. He is one of the disciples of Adi Shankara who composed Totakashtakam praising the greatness of a Guru. It says that there is nothing equal to Guru, nothing is superior to Guru and no one can remove the ignorance. Sri Sankaracharya has many disciples. Giri was one of his disciples who is less intelligent and used to wash his clothes with full devotion. One day Sri Sankaracharya was waiting for Giri who went to the river to wash his clothes. His other disciples were frustrated at Giri. Another disciple by the name Padmapada pointed to a wall and said that teaching to Giri would be the same as teaching to a wall. Adi Sankara blessed Giri with complete knowledge in all Sastras. Enlightened by the grace of Adi Sankara, Giri composed Totakashtakam praising the Guru. Since that time, he is known as Totakacharya. Few verses are listed below:
O the Ocean of compassion! Save me whose heart is tormented by the misery of the sea of birth! Make me understand the truths of all the schools of philosophy! Be Thou my refuge, O Master, Sankara. (2)
Knowing that Thou art verily the Supreme Lord, there arises overwhelming bliss in my heart. Protect me from the vast ocean of delusion. Be Thou my refuge, O Master, Sankara. (4)
Desire for the insight into unity through Thee will spring only when virtuous deeds are performed in abundance and in various directions. Protect this extremely helpless person.Be Thou my refuge, O Master, Sankara. (5)
O, Teacher! For saving the world the great assume various forms and wander in disguise. Of them, thou shinest like the Sun. Be Thou my refuge, O Master, Sankara (6)
O the best of Teachers! The Supreme Lord having the bull as banner! None of the wise is equal to Thee! Thou who art compassionate to those who have taken refuge! The Treasure-trove of truth! Be Thou my refuge, O Master Sankara. (7)
Not even a single branch of knowledge has been understood by me correctly. Not even the least wealth do I possess, O Teacher. Bestow on me quickly Thy natural grace. Be thou my refuge, O Master Sankara. (8)
Requesting Sri Swamiji to Pardon our Mistakes
On this Guru Purnima, let us all pray Sri Swamiji to bless us with what we deserve, remove the obstacles we may face in our daily life and also in the world of work, help us to develop Stithipragna, lead us to the path of vairagya, help us to break the cycle of birth and death and enable us to develop full devotion. Let us request Sri Swamiji to forgive us for all the mistakes we have committed either knowingly or unknowingly and pardon us from all the ignorance we accumulated over many lives. Let us request Lord Dattatreya to come to our rescue and pull us out of this wretchedness as narrated in Sri Datta Aparadha Kshamapana Stotram:
I salute Dattatreya to please him, For he is the soul and doer and,
Is the God of Gods at the end of Vedas,
And he would pardon mistakes done knowingly or unknowingly. (1)
Due to your birth and your partiality for the oppressed,
You are the only one to be served and worshipped, But if due to my being confused, I am not remembering you, Oh dear, and great God, please pardon me. (2)
There is no one equal to me in doing sins,
There is no one equal to you in destroying sins,
There is no gentleman who is as pitiable as me,
And there is no one who is as merciful as you. (4)
You are the lord of the orphans, good friend of the oppressed,
The God who is the complete sea of the nectar of pity,
And the devotion to your feet, the service to your devotees,
And also constant meditation on your mantras and their meaning.(5)
May Sri Swamiji shower his bountiful blessings on all his devotees, grant peace of mind, relieve them from the spread of Coronavirus, chart them to the path of righteousness, and restore the normalcy in the material and non-material world. For Sri Swamiji’s compassion, love, caring, kindness, and guidance, all the devotees express their eternal gratitude, convey their deep appreciation, and show their everlasting admiration with humility and humbleness on this Guru Purnima Day in 2020.
Jai Guru Datta