Saturday January 20, 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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Cho Ramaswamy: The Man Who Wore Many Hats

Cho Ramaswamy won several accolades and awards during his career as an entertainer and as a journalist.

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Cho Ramaswamy was undoubtedly one of the most prominent indian Personalities. Twitter
Cho Ramaswamy was undoubtedly one of the most prominent Indian Personalities. Twitter

By Ruchika Verma

  • Cho Ramaswamy was a multi-talented man who ventured into acting, directing, journalism and politics
  • He was very close to late CM of Tamil Nadu, Jayalalithaa for whom he acted as a philosopher and guide
  • Cho Ramaswamy was very vocal about his criticism of politicians and unethical practices

Srinivasa Iyer or Cho Ramaswamy was an Indian film actor, director, magazine editor, political satirist, and a lawyer. He was born on 5th October 1934 and was one of the most prominent Tamil personalities in India.

Cho Ramaswamy's magazine Tughlak has a huge fan following. Twitter
Cho Ramaswamy’s magazine Tughlak has a huge fan following. Twitter

He was the man of many talents who passed away at the age of 82 on 7th December 2016. Cho Ramaswamy the founder and editor of the Tamil magazine Thuglak, was also a recipient of the prestigious Padma Bhushan award, for his contributions in Literature and Education.

Cho Ramaswamy undoubtedly was one of the most prominent personalities in the southern Indian politics. Here are few things about his life which you may not have known before:

How his career started 

Cho Ramaswamy was first and foremost a lawyer by profession, being born in a family of lawyers. He later branched into theatre, films and finally into journalism and politics.

Cho Ramaswamy won Padma Bhushan for his contribution in the field of Literature and Education. Facebook
Cho Ramaswamy won Padma Bhushan for his contribution in the field of Literature and Education. Facebook

He got into the theatre while he was still practising law. His work as a satirist was very much appreciated. His most famous drama is  ‘Muhammad bin Tughluq,’ it was so brilliant that it became a classic.

He ventured into journalism and founded his own magazine Tughlak, which was mainly focused on the local social and political issues. It was widely and highly appreciated for its satirical and honest views on the politicians and politics. He was fearless in his criticism of the governments.

He later got into politics and was a member of Rajya Sabha from 1999 to 2005. He openly went against Jayalalithaa, when she was at her most powerful, even though she was very close to him. He even predicted Narendra Modi as India’s Prime Minister, long before BJP even declared him as a candidate. He was a true visionary in all senses.

Cho Ramaswamy and Jayalalithaa 

Cho Ramaswamy and Jayalalithaa were one pair of friends whose relationship went beyond friendship to a plane where not all can reach. Jayalalithaa debuted as a child actress with the YG Parthasarathy drama troupe where Cho Ramaswamy was already a star. They worked together in 19 films.

Cho Ramaswamy was Jayalalithaa’s greatest friend but also her most vocal critic. It was the only who was consulted in the matters of Jayalalithaa’s political career by herself and by the star-politician MGR. He acted as her friend, philosopher and guide in films as well as in politics.

The late Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa was extremely close to Cho Ramaswamy. Twitter
The late Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa was extremely close to Cho Ramaswamy. Twitter

You may also like: Iron Lady of India: Jayalalithaa was an inspiration for Women

It is being said many times that the late Tamil Nadu chief minister and AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa once told Ramaswamy that he has to live till she is alive. Interestingly, Cho Ramaswamy died barely 36 hours after Jayalalithaa died. According to doctors who were treating him, before he was put on the ventilator, he watched the live coverage of Jayalalithaa’s body lying in state at Rajaji Hall, Chennai.

There is only one instance of discord between the two, during 1996-2001, where he became a staunch critic of Jayalalithaa because of her unethical ways as a Chief Minister. However, as she mended her ways, he warmed up to her again.

Cho Ramaswamy not only influenced Jayalalithaa’s professional life as an actress and politician, but also her personal life. She considered him her and guide and consulted him before all major decisions.

Ramaswamy and his achievements 

Cho Ramaswamy won several accolades and awards during his career as an entertainer and as a journalist. Apart from being awarded a Padma Bhushan, he also won B.D. Goenka award for excellence in journalism.

Cho Ramaswamy was also famous for his closeness with various prominent politicians, including Narendra Modi. Twitter
Cho Ramaswamy was also famous for his closeness with various prominent politicians, including Narendra Modi. Twitter

His achievements were not only limited to awards. His achievements went beyond that. His association with prominent political leaders like Jayaprakash Narayan, L.K. Advani, Chandra Shekhar, G.K. Moopanar, Jayalalithaa and Narendra Modi, and his role in influencing some of their decisions are noteworthy.

Also Read: Need more Satire and Humour to build bridges between Communities and Societies, says PM Narendra Modi

His achievements as a playwright and actor are also noteworthy. Many of his plays went onto becoming national hits. And he received critical acclaim for his acting as well as his stints as a director.

Perhaps, one of his biggest achievement was the fact that he took many roles throughout his life and ended up successful in all of them. He was indeed the man who wore many hats, and managed to balance them all equally well.