We are deeply indebted to Swami Chinmayananda. There is absolutely no doubt that he was a great rishi of modern times and an extraordinary visionary. The sages of the Upanishad prayed, “May those brahmacharis, who want to revel in Brahman, come to us from all directions.” They wanted pupils who had discipline of mind and body to come to them – and many came.
Swami Chinmayananda illustrated this tradition by setting up Sandeepany Sadhanalayas in Mumbai, Sidhbari, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala, where brahmacharins are given training. Young, educated people, between the ages of eighteen to thirty are invited to these institutions and trained free of cost. He wanted them to learn the Scriptures, so that they would be able to live more complete and fulfilling lives.
In ancient times, students of gurukulas had to go out every day to collect alms, which were in turn offered to the Guru. The Guru would then give the disciple his share. There were times when he would decide not to give them anything, in order to increase the level of austerity of the student. In the Sandeepanies, Swami Chinmayananda ensured that the students did not have to go out for anything. He made certain that all the needs of his disciples were automatically met. His one desire was that the children, who came to him to study Vedanta, should do so without any other concerns. Can you find a more compassionate Guru?
Swami Chinmayananda took it on himself to feed, clothe, house and nourish all those who showed an interest in Vedanta. Notwithstanding all this, the students, on completion of their studies, were under no obligation to work for the Chinmaya Mission. Even after giving so much, he had no expectations of any kind from anyone. Once, a brahmachari asked him, “Gurudev, what do you expect from us?”
Swami Chinmayananda replied, “Nothing, just smile when we meet!”
Unfortunately, we are not even able to smile.
In his scheme of things, there was no question of a bond being signed. He had no expectations whatsoever from his students. His only aim was to give them this Knowledge so that they could be free. To work or not to work for the Mission was the choice of the student. As far as he was concerned, there were no hard feelings. It is difficult to find such a large-hearted rishi.
Even in olden times there are stories of sages who were happy and content merely by their students gaining knowledge and wisdom. They had no further desires. What a grand educational tradition it was. Our present day educational system stands to no comparison. In that ancient system, there was no question of measuring anyone or insisting on any demands. We have the notable example of Kaustuvani, the disciple of Vartantu who asked his master what he wanted. Vartantu rishi replied that he wanted nothing. Bhagawan Sri Krishna also studied under Sage Sandeepani and on completion of his studies, asked what he should give as guru dakshina. Sandeepani Rishi replied that he did not want anything. He knew Sri Krishna’s true nature and felt blessed at having been given the opportunity to teach Him. There are several such instances in the Guru-shishya parampara, to show the greatness of the teacher.
Swami Chinmayananda’s life was one such example. On making a comparison one will be convinced that he was a tattva drashta, with just one great thirst – that this supreme Knowledge should reach as many people as possible.
The author is head of Chinmaya Mission worldwide.
Published in Speaking Tree website: May 02 2014