Sadguru Gnanananda
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M.P. Pandit on The Guru

Sri M.P. Pandit of the renowned Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan has delivered speeches and articles on Sadguru Gnanananda. Two such specific extracts are presented below:

  1. Forward to the book "Sadguru Gnanananda", a Bharatiya Bhavan publication
  2. Speech delivered at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Madras, on 9th June 1979
  • "SADGURU GNANANANDA" - Forward to the book "Sadguru Gnanananda"

    Sadguru Gnanananda is a baffling enigma to the modern intellectual but an open book with the disarming simplicity of a child of God to the common man. Swamiji swore by tradition but went beyond it in his glorious ministry spanning well over a century - nobody knows for certain how long. He breathed the essence of God-Knowledge, the para vidya, but amazed everyone with his grasp of the intricacies of the complex texture of the prevailing material civilisation. He would draw himself on to the summits of Brahmic Nirvana and the next moment join hilarious children on their swing. There was hardly a line of Yoga with which he was not acquainted, not a major experience in spiritual life that he had not undergone.

    Gnanananda Giri may have belonged to an Advaitic tradition, sampradaya, but his life was a meeting ground for various traditions: Sankhya, Yoga, Tantra, and Vedanta. In him fused philosophy, upasana, practical discipline to realise the truth of the philosophy, occultism, gupta vidya, and sound commonsense. He synthesised Jnana, Knowledge, Bhakti, Love, Karma, Action in a unique manner: he related them to the processes of purifying and subtilising the mental body, the vital body and the physical body. He taught how to organise the different vehicles, koshas, around their true Self, dispensing with the pseudo-self i.e. the ego. He insisted that one learn first to poise oneself in the Witness consciousness before one can hope to move into the station of the Self.

    Though he held fast to the indivisible, unique Atman, the sole Self, as the goal and the Ultimate, he recognised the reality of the bhumikas, the several planes of existence. And he showed by the manner of his functioning that it is possible to live simultaneously on all the levels. The devout authors of this comprehensive book record many an instance of this multiple manifestation of the Divine Glory in the embodiment of the Swami.

    What is his teaching, one may ask. His life itself is a Teaching. The way he received humanity, of all ages, of all stages, of all races - men, women and children----and put them through the most unorthodox disciplines of self-enlightenment, self-elevation, self-purification, is an object lesson in universal spirituality. He recognised adhikara bheda, variation in competence according to one samskaras, past impressions, and environmetal factors, and led each one in the way most natural to him. He discouraged discussions of the intellectual type and insisted upon practical orientation in day-to-day life in the mould of one's Ideal. Understanding, and living according to that understanding of one's Dharma under the guidance of the Guru is the way.

    The Guru, the Grace through the Guru, effort. purushartha, and time, kala, are the four dimensions of this Journey to the Self. Satsang, company of the holy, warms up the process and makes one sharp of aspiration, intense in seeking. The Master founded ashrams in different places to provide for this need and established a permanent inspiration and Dynamis based upon his own illumined, ecstatic Realization of the ONE.

    The Sruti speaks of atmarati, one who is ever in the beatitude of the blissful Self. Here is a living example. Of this Bliss Self, says the Upanishad, Love is the head, Joy his right side and Felicity the left. There you have a perfect description of Sadguru Gnanananda.

    It is a blessing to read of him. A double blessing to live in his Wisdom. Let us do both.

    Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry.
    3rd January 1979.

  • SADGURU GNANANANDA" - Speech delivered by Sri M.P. Pandit at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Madras, on 9th June 1979

    It used to be said when I was a boy that before a person can get accepted and win popular acclamation in our country, he must have some foreign commendation. And the case of Rabindranath Tagore used to be cited because, though he wrote his Gitanjali many years earlier, it was only when the Western critics praised it that the Indian intellectuals took notice of it. Nearer our times there was a classic case of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. It was Vasishtha Ganapati Muni who first discovered him, declared him to be Ramana and presented him to the world. But it required a journalist from a foreign country, Mr. Paul Brunton, to write about him in a book called "A Search in Secret India" before the Maharshi was accepted by the world at large. And, I am afraid, the same has been the case with Swami Gnanananda. Many of us, of course, living in this corner of the country, have known of him. But, the country at large, the world abroad, came to know of him only when a Frenchman, a Benedictine monk, Swami Abhishiktananda, wrote his classic book "The Guru and Disciple", in which he presented a beautiful and moving picture of the Saint and the depth of his Teaching. I personally consider this book, 'Guru and Disciple' to be one of the major spiritual documents of the present century far, far superior to many books from the West that have appeared of late. The book with which we are concerned today, SADGURU GNANANANDA, presents a still more full-blooded picture of the personality and throws ample light on the application of his comprehensive teaching.

    Swami Gnanananda, it has been said, never said how old he was and left people guessing. He smiled to one who asked him whether he was two hundred years, nodded to another who asked if it was a hundred and fifty, and so on. Did it really matter, he seemed to ask? This has baffled many people. But we forget that he lived beyond Time. He was one of those personalities who live physically in this world of Time and Space, but in their Consciousness live beyond Time. He lived in his Self and the Self is eternal. But, mind you, he had a very firm grasp of this world and knew the devious ways of men. To him man was as dear as God and his compassion flowed abundantly. I would narrate a small incident of which I know personally. Many of you are aware that I stay in Pondicherry in Sri Aurobindo Ashram, and Tirukoilur, where the famous Saint lived, is not very far. A number of my colleagues used to be visiting the Tapovanam and would come and give Mother, my Teacher, accounts of their visits, talks etc. and Mother had a high regard for the ecstatic consciousness in which he always lived. One particular friend of mine, an aeronautical engineer, trained in England in the Rolls Royce factory, a rationalist and scientist, who was not given to belief in spiritual powers and the like, had acute trouble with arthritis in his knees; he used to go to the Swamiji's Ashram, driving a friend who was a regular devotee. One day, when he went before Swamiji, his discomfort was evident and the Swamiji asked him what was the matter. He mentioned the excruciating pain he had in his knees and added that no doctor had been able to help him. Then Swamiji said, "Well, I'll give you some vibhuti, will you take it?" As I said, my friend didn't have much faith in these things, he felt it was less than honest to take it from him. So he said, "Sir, I'll think over it." He came back and told the Mother of this incident. Mother smiled and told him, "Why didn't you take it?" So the next day he drove back and Swamiji gave him the vibhuti. He took it at night. And the next day he went there, smiling, beaming with joy. Swamiji asked him, "What happened?" The engineer replied, "Sir, I am ninety-five per cent cured. Only five per cent is left." To his amazement, Swamiji said, "Failure. It is a failure." He couldn't understand. He came to the Mother and told it all. The Mother said, "He is right, because these cures depend upon faith. If the faith is complete, the cure is bound to be complete. But the fact that five per cent was not cured shows that your faith was not complete. And from that standpoint, it is a failure." This perception into the laws of the occult was something very natural to Swamiji. He wielded a number of supernatural powers, but he made Very light of them, he never exhibited them, nor did he like people to take too much notice of them. His sense of values was different.

    He knew the psychology of men and things. You will find in this book an incident in which a man with his family visits the Tapovanam. Swamiji asks him, "Why do you come here? Is it a malady of the body? Go to a doctor who will treat you. Is it a malady of the mind, possession by some spirit? Go to a mantravadin. If it is the malady of the soul, come to me.". He sifted things with alacrity. He had no use for philosophies and dialectics. He allowed people to air their views, parade their learning but when he was pointedly asked for his verdict, he only asked: "How does all this help you to reach your Self?" He emphasised practical sadhana on the way to the Self, the way that disappears when one walks on it! But he had infinite Compassion, a Compassion born of Strength, Strength of Bliss. In one of the most ancient Upanishads there is a description of one who has realised the Divine Self, but is not lost in it; he is atmakridah, one who sports with the Self, atmarnithunah, one with the Self for his companion, atmanandah, one whose delight is in the Self. Wherever he looks--when he looks at a child, looks at a plant, a flower and an animal-he sees only the Self, he lives and joys in the Self, atmaratih. Swami Gnanananda is such a one who has stepped out of the pages of the Upanishad. He demonstrates in his life profound truths which would remain idle phrases without such luminaries who embody these pregnant concepts.

    Speech delivered at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Madras, on 9th June 1979, at the function for the release of the book 'SADGURU GNANANANDA,' by His ExcePency Sri Prabhuda.~ B. Patwari, Governor of Tamil Nadu. Published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Kulapati K. M. Munshi~ Marg, Bombay 400 007.