Sunday May 27, 2018

Swami Chinmayananda: The man who found Supreme Consciousness through Vedanta

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By Gaurav Sharma

Words such as, ‘India is free, but are Indians free ?’ have a deep impact on the psyche and compel one to reflect upon the reality of life.

Proclamations, such as “Without the touch of life (read God), a sinner cannot sin neither can a monk meditate,” are more than just dry philosophical words. They are powerful realizations, which can leave the believer, the seeker and the non-believer, all at once, bemused with their own existence.

One does not require an astrologer to fathom that the aforementioned words are affirmations of a monk, in this case, Swami Chinmayananda, a Vedantist, a teacher, and the founder of Chinmaya mission.

Well, you might be wondering that there are countless Swamis donning the ochre robe nowadays, then what is so special about Swami Chinmayananda?

For starters, the man holds quite a few parallels with the modern-educated-man of the today’s age: Highly sceptical about the existence of a higher power, yet immensely curious to know more about himself. Extremely talented yet restless.

One can also safely assume that when Prime Minister Narendra Modi releases coins commemorating the birth centenary of Swami Chinmayananda, the person must hold some importance.

Born as Balakrishna Menon in 1916 in Ernakulam, Kerala, Swami Chinmayananda was a student of Lucknow University. As a freedom fighter, who was jailed by the British in 1941, Balakrishna had to bear the torture for rebellion and for supporting the cause of freedom.

He was virtually left to die by barbaric British soldiers when a friend’s family managed to scrape him through the grip of death. Soon, however, the death of that very friend set the ball rolling for the future Swami to ponder over life, its meaning and purpose.

Almost immediately, he joined the National Herald as a journalist, and his slick and powerful words started commanding respect from both the masses and the intelligentsia. The paper’s circulation also snowballed to record highs, courtesy Balakrishna’s meaningful articles.

Still, however, something was pricking Balakrishna inside out. Small gestures, such as the prosperous ones bickering over a few extra rupees with rickshawallas, but offering a sumptuous amount of money to the Sadhu, got him utterly disillusioned with holy men.

With deep resentment against such Sadhus, whom Balakrishna thought were nothing but mere charlatans, he set off to Rishikesh to expose the myth of religion. There, he encountered Swami Sivananda, under whom he was again conflicted with the following of meaningless rituals.

Still, the seeker in Balakrishna persisted over the rationalist. He gave up his job and earned the name of Chinmayananda, meaning Bliss or Supreme Consciousness. Soon, he moved further north, where he studied the scriptures for almost 10 years under the tutelage of Swami Tapovan.

The metamorphosis from an unusual non-believer to an inquisitive seeker and finally to a Vedantist is remarkable transition, which renders the life of Swami Chinmayanada unique in the annals of spirituality.

And, he did not stop there. Hardly, any time had passed after his transformation that he launched a spiritual renaissance movement by the name of Chinmaya Mission. The mission, which has branches spread in over 300 centers in India and abroad, conducts spiritual, educational and charitable activities that have revolutionized the lives of innumerable people.

Chinmaya Mission aims to spread Advaita Vedanta, the Vedic philosophy expounded by the 8th century saint Sankaracharya.

Swami Chinmayanada’s life is a testimony to the fact that we all are seekers, in search of bliss.

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Oli Assures Modi, Nepal’s Territory Won’t Be Used Against India’s Interests

After assuming office in February, Oli made his first foreign visit to India in April.

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Gokhale said that Modi's two-day visit to Nepal was aimed to strengthen bilateral relations
KP Sharma Oli, PM of Nepal, wikimedia commons

Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli has told his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi that Nepal’s territory will not be used against New Delhi’s interests, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said here on Saturday.

“Oli reiterated that they will be sensitive to our concerns and their territory will not be allowed to be used by anybody against India. Prime Minister Modi reciprocated the sentiments,” Gokhale told the media.

Gokhale called Oli’s view “very significant”.

There was a chill in India-Nepal ties during Oli’s earlier stint as Prime Minister between October 2015 and August 2016 when a border blockade blamed on New Delhi crippled Nepal’s economy.

There were also perceptions that Oli was leaning towards China than India.

Gokhale said that Modi’s two-day visit to Nepal was aimed to strengthen bilateral relations “whether it be cross-border electricity or cross-border connectivity”.

“We are looking into cross-border electricity and cross-border connectivity not only with Nepal but other neighbouring countries as well,” he said.

After assuming office in February, Oli made his first foreign visit to India in April.

Stating that India welcomed the restoration of democracy in Nepal, Gokhale said that both the government and the opposition in the Himalayan nation were parties to it.

He said both sides agreed to be committed towards the stated projects. “We will address this within a set timeline.”

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi stressed on the importance of service to others in his last Mann Ki Baat edition for 2017.
Modi is on Nepal visit for two days, wikimedia commons

According to Gokhale, Oli confirmed to Modi that Nepal will host the the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) summit this year.

Bimstec comprises seven countries lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal — Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Gokhale also said that Modi’s visits to cultural sites in Nepal “suggested that there should be strong people-to-people ties”.

Apart from offering prayers at temples in Nepal, the Indian leader inaugurated the Janakpur-Ayodhya bus service, a 900 MW hydropower project and announced Rs 100-crore aid to develop Janakpur city.

Also Read: Water Crisis is Increasing in Cape Town, Red Alert For Africa 

He also held extensive discussions with Oli, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari and other government officials to better bilateral ties after which he said: “All misunderstandings with Nepal are over.”

Modi also met leaders of opposition parties, starting with former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and other members of the Nepali Congress.

He exchanged views on strengthening bilateral ties with former Prime Minister and Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”. (IANS)