Article by Swami Aparajitananda

In Bhagavad Gītā it is said:
yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānirbhavati bhārata |
abhyuthānam adharmasya tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmyaham ||

(=Whenever there is a decline of dharma and an ascent of adharma, I manifest Myself.)

In the initial years of the 20th century, India was going through a painful phase. It was a time when the successive foreign rules had made the Indians forget their own glorious culture. The new generation educated only in English was cut off from the wisdom of their ancestors preserved in Sanskrit. Hindu religion had been reduced to innumerable complicated meaningless elaborate superstitious rituals that made no sense either to the participants or the performers. Many got converted to other religions unable to find strength or solace in their own religion. The practice of untouchability was rampant everywhere. The scriptural knowledge in all its purity was restricted only to some remote ashrams. But these ashrams were inaccessible to the common man, leaving him struggling with the daily challenges of life without a direction.

Indeed an avatar was needed to revive Hinduism… An avatar was needed to redefine the rituals and reinterpret the scriptures for the changing society – a society facing problems and challenges unheard of ever before … An avatar was needed to reform the English-educated masses – coated-suited-booted ignorant but arrogant ones – who were blindly aping the materialistic West… An avatar was needed to remind the Indians of their glorious past, of their rich tradition, of their rich cultural heritage, and thus bring back their lost self-respect, lost due to centuries of foreign rule…

An avatar was needed to bring back the glory of the most ancient religion to its pristine purity. That avatar was Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda.

Here is Gurudev’s beautiful narration by Pritish Nandy while he did an interview with Gurudev in 1980:
“Swami Chinmayananda, 64, is Hinduism’s answer to the countless young men and women who have strayed away over the years, disgusted with the meaningless rituals and tired theology of the world’s oldest living faith. A distinguished scholar, an ardent teacher and a compulsive world-trotter, the Swami is held today as one of the few serious and credible missionaries that Hinduism must offer. His missions are all over the world; so are his devotees and students. And they are growing at a rate which will soon, perhaps, make Swami Chinmayananda, numero uno in the glittering pantheon of gurus, rishis, bhagavans, and babas who hold sway over India’s millions and many abroad.

“In many ways, this is the best way that could have happened to Hinduism. For, the Swami is no quack-healer or fast-buck merchant. He offers no miracles to lure the gullible. He makes no predictions, reads no fortunes and sings paeans to no politician. He makes no claim to being a God, except for argument’s sake; nor does he offer you, for a fee, the quick root to nirvana. He simply teaches. He is best known for his interpretation of Gītā and almost every day of the year, somewhere or other, in Bonn or Bangkok, Bombay or Baltimore, he has class on…”

In Sanskrit, ‘Gu’ – means darkness of ignorance; and ‘ru’ – means the remover.
Hence ‘Guru’ is the one who removes the darkness of ignorance from the minds of his disciples.

In spirituality, ignorance is compared with darkness, and knowledge is compared with light. Just as the suffering of a person wandering in darkness comes to an end with light, so too, our sufferings in life come to an end when the Guru brings in the right knowledge – the knowledge of the Self.

Right knowledge is the most important thing in life. Because everything in our life – our thoughts, desires, goals, actions, aspirations, planning… – everything depends only on one thing – our understanding of life. If this understanding is faulty, then our entire life is wasted in the pursuit of illusory things, beings and situations of the world.

Hence the Lord says in the Gītā: na hi jñānena sadṛśaṁ pavitramiha vidyate – Arjuna, there is nothing more purifying than right knowledge.

Pujya Gurudev made this knowledge simple and easily available through Jnana Yajnas. An organization named Chinmaya Mission was formed so that this knowledge was made available for little children through Balavihar classes, for youngsters through Yuva Kendra classes, for women through Devi Group classes, and for elders through Study classes.
Thus Pujya Gurudev gave us a beautiful platform where we could learn, practice and spread the highest wisdom of the ancient scriptures.

Our humble prostrations with gratitude to Pujya Gurudev on this auspicious occasion 108th birth anniversary for showing us the path and inspiring us to walk the path.