Monday, 14 November 2011

An audience with Swami Muktananda, Anandashram

Rangoli outside mauna mandir
Madam, after breakfast tomorrow you go to Swamiji  

Instructed the receptionist, handing me a key to my room and a copy of the daily schedule. I had just arrived at Anandashram, a short rickshaw ride from Kanhangad railway station in Kerala and the conclusion of five days and four nights of travel.  

Thus, the following morning I approached Swamiji’s private quarters, wearing my cleanest, most modest outfit, hair tied back and feeling a little nervous.  

Swami Muktananda, the current spiritual head of Anandashram in Kerala, south India, is a modern man; fluent in English and a qualified allopathic doctor. I was gestured into his office, joining two other newcomers, a middle aged housewife from Kalicut and a Dutch guy from Utrecht.

We sat on the floor facing Swamiji at his desk.  He smiled warmly and started to speak, a fluent, unrehearsed welcome speech, explaining the spiritual position of the ashram and offering guidance to us. It was a relaxed affair, much like being in the presence of a friendly headmaster.

At times Swamiji would pause to answer the telephone Hari Om? And to personally greet a number of day visitors bringing donations, children to be blessed, health complaints and spiritual queries before him. An elderly male ashram resident sat beside him on a plain wooden chair, slowly turning the pages of the Times of India, murmuring and nodding without looking up.

Looking down towards reception
The problem is we have contracted into ourselves. We have some fixed notions that we should be able to get over. 

We are attached to our rights and wrongs, our likes and dislikes, our priorities, our differences, our cravings, our infatuations, our fixed opinions. 

Spirituality steps in there to keep us expanding. Spirituality means love. 

The spiritual discipline in this ashram is chanting of God’s name. If we keep chanting with total faith and devotion, a process of purification takes place. Things will get opened up. Interconnectedness, interdependence, absence of otherness. 

 It does not matter which name you chant. What is important is the name stands for Love.

As we keep chanting God’s name, the hold of me and mine will get loosened, lessened. 

And when sufficiently we have progressed, first he will give us some glimpses. Then he has promised that the stage will come when we get stabilized.

Then we get to see Him in the form of Love in everybody, the air we breathe, the earth we stand on, the water we drink, the space in which we move about, the sun. 

One of three mahasamadhi shrines
Plants and trees, birds and animals, even objects. All!   

The dress you are wearing, the specs he is wearing, the chair, the building, the fan, the light, the switch.  

When we are buying a new shoe we should do it with gratitude, anything and everything is an object of Love, and an object of God and is serving us. 

We can become aware of this. Let us try to practice that. Everything is serving me. Love, love, love, love.

How do I pay back?  I can bring in a quality of care and concern for others into my life. Love becomes love only when it is applied. Every thought, word and deed should bear the stamp of the Divine.

To love all is the true bhakti of God, to serve all is the true worship of God. It’s a tall order. Let us keep it as an idea and strive towards it, as much as possible.

Whenever we fail, whenever we forget, whenever we are off the track, this nama pulls us up.

We should express our gratitude for having been made aware of a higher form of living inside.

Great teachers of Anandashra are honoured
The succinct simplicity of Swamiji’s words impressed me. I was struck by how relevant they are to me at this time and how appropriate a message for humanity. 

In particular,  I have deepened, expanded my perspective on gratitude. Yes! I can be grateful for this chair I am sitting upon and the craftsmen who made it. 

I thought how useful it would be to invoke this deep gratitude in moments of doubt, stress, insecurity. One can simply open one’s eyes and appreciate every material item in one’s purview, no matter how familiar or banal.  Divine essence pervades all forms was my personal, private revelation.

And I like also Swamiji’s explanation of the contracted and expanded self. I reflected upon the irony of  expanding consumer capitalist society that fosters contraction of the self and a small, selfish world view. Where individual priorities and preferences become so important that we struggle and fight to maintain them.

And the truly expanded self requires less and less, is more able to be open to others: to share, collaborate, create and love/

Such ideas have been kept alive in India. Honoured, discussed and nurtured in ashrams and temples,  the light of truth and practice has remained lit across centuries and millennia. Gurus such as Swamiji contain and transmit this knowledge, through prayer, teachings, writings and individual assistance.

The Mother's peace garden
Meanwhile, in the west, we are rediscovering this wisdom and building our New Age.

The higher truths are filtering into western consciousness en masse via our own gurus, such as Eckhart Tolle and Louise Hay, who are able to present the material in a way we can relate to culturally.

One no longer has to travel to India to find enlightenment, but there is something very special about being here and witnessing the continuum of  teachings.

Once again I find myself in deep awe and respect, humbled by the magnificent spiritual civilization that is India.   

I am grateful to be received here again and again with such goodness and generosity and to find the guidance that I need.


1 comment:

  1. We cannot rationally conceive of divine essence, but we can have conscious awareness of being in it.

    E=mc², Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, is probably the best known scientific equation. I revised it to help better understand the relationship between divine Essence (Love, Grace, Spirit), matter (mass/energy: visible/dark) and consciousness (f(x) raised to its greatest power). Unlike the speed of light, which is a constant, there are no exact measurements for consciousness. In this hypothetical formula, basic consciousness may be of insects, to the second power of animals and to the third power the rational mind of humans. The fourth power is suprarational consciousness of mystics, when they intuit the divine essence in perceived matter. This was a convenient analogy, but there cannot be a divine formula.

    (quoted from as a free ebook)


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