Remembering Swami Chinmayananda

“If I rest, I rust” is one of most exalting quotes of Swami Chinmayananda, which I often listened during my school days at Chinmaya Vidyalaya. Today I am able to recite a few stanzas of Bhagavat Gita, thanks to those numerous Balavihar (open session on bhajans) that I attended during the school academics. Back then these sessions seemed vexing and were a convenient place to gibber. I never realized that these were intended to sow in the seeds of spirituality, a much needed accompaniment as we progress in life. I had the privilege of seeing Swamiji when I was in class 3. Memory of that time can be flimsy but that pious figure , clad in saffron dhoti, a saffron cloth covering one side of the bare chest, the pointed silver colored beard, spectacle and eyes equally brightening, etched deep in my mind.

I still recollect the story narrated by Swamiji to us students on that rainy day. It was the story of a king and his ministers. The king had two sets of ministers, left wing and right wing. During an extreme summer season water scarcity became an acute issue in the kingdom and people flocked to complain. King took a decision to dig new wells in the kingdom. King called upon his left wing ministers and asked them to oversee the digging of the wells. Due to the peculiarity of the land, the well had to be dug very deep to get the water. The ministers got the work done in a weeks’ time.

When the rainy season arrived the same people popped out with another issue to the king. The mud that was taken out during the digging of the well had piled up in every nook and corner and eventually clogged and congested the entire city. King ordered his right wing ministers to deal with it. These ministers took the mud and closed up the very wells that left wing ministers had dug. See the comedy of errors. Neither the king nor the ministers were wise enough to handle the situation. The message which Swamiji wanted to convey was the importance of being wise. When we do not make the full use of our mind and intellect, they lose their efficiency and the outcome either fallible or ludicrous.

On the day Swamiji attained peace on 3rd Aug 1993; our school organized a silent procession through the town. Various functions were held and in one of them the then principal of our school Mr. Kunhambu Nair gave an emotional speech on various facets of Swamiji’s life. One among them was Swamiji’s involvement in freedom struggle. Before embracing asceticism, Balan, the erstwhile name of Swamiji, took part actively in freedom struggle and was jailed. Due to unhygienic condition of the jail Swamiji caught typhoid and was chucked into the outskirts of the city. Perhaps this part of his life remains obscure to many.

Chinmayananda means ‘filled with the bliss of pure Consciousness’. Swamiji was a teacher who essentially lived to spread Bhagavad Gita. Swamiji had a expressive style for reciting Gita. Through various publications and discourses Swamiji explicated Gita in a way the common man could easily follow it. Recently I got added to the Chinmaya Vidyalaya group in Facebook and when I started reading his teachings I realized the irony. I was associated with Chinmaya Vidyalaya, an institution established by Swamiji, for more than a decade but never really tried to understand his teachings in deep. May be it is now time to give a start and follow his pedagogy.