By Sri Swami Chidananda

This article is from the book Awake! Realise Your Divinity!.

Beloved and worshipful Gurudev! Homage unto thy glorious and gracious spiritual presence, thou who art the light, the life and the soul of this Ashram that you have created upon this holy spot on the right bank of Divine Mother Ganga in sacred Uttarkhand! Fortunate are we to gather together in this sacred Samadhi Hall during this early morning hour of quietness and to enter into silent spiritual fellowship with souls whom you have drawn by the power of your inspiration and divine wisdom teachings.

Most fortunate are those who visit this place. Most fortunate indeed are those who are able to spend some time doing anushthana japa, and most fortunate indeed are those thrice blessed souls who dwell with you and live the life divine. I bow to your presence and invoke thy glance of grace, kripa-kataksha, upon all those assembled here. I pray that thy guru-kripa and choicest blessings may enable them to lead the life sublime, to lead a life of tyaga and tapasya, nivritti and sannyasa, bhakti and bhajan, self-control and discipline, concentration and meditation, a life of active enquiry, discrimination and analysis, a life of introspection, reflection and contemplation, a divine life of truth, purity, compassion and kindness, a divine life of service, devotion, meditation and aspiration for Self-realisation.

May this be your special gift on this day, June 1, the anniversary of your sannyasa, your renunciation. In 1924 you came here as a lone wanderer, not knowing the language of this part of the land, not knowing the customs prevailing here and unfamiliar with the experiences of extreme heat and extreme cold. You had but one thought, to be in seclusion, in silence, and to chant the Name of God, pray to Him and attain realisation.

Blessed is that day, for out of that renunciation of yours, out of your embracing the monastic order, has sprung up a monastic family of effulgent tyagis, effulgent monks filled with a light of a higher awareness, a higher consciousness, benefiting others by this inner light that they have acquired by their contact with you. Blessed is that day, for it has given rise to this great, noble edifice of Divine Life, of Yoga-Vedanta, of practical spiritual sadhana, in this age of materialism, scepticism, atheism and hedonism.

Blessed Immortal Atman! Beloved fellow seekers after the Eternal Reality! We were considering the need to awaken, unfold and activate the latent, dormant spiritual samskaras, the spiritual impressions and the latent tendencies, spiritual inclinations, vasanas, carried over from past births. Otherwise they will remain dormant without fructifying.

A number of years back, in Egypt, when one of the tombs of a young pharaoh was opened, they discovered beside his mummy many seeds of grain left there by the ruler’s loyal subjects. The archaeologists were fired with an intense curiosity: “Will these seeds sprout? Are they still holding the life principle after lying here for thousands of years?” So, with great anticipation they planted them. And lo and behold when the seeds were watered and given the right conditions for germination, they soon sprouted forth and grew into shoots of grain. Civilisations had come and gone, kingdoms had risen and fallen, but in these seeds entombed with the young pharaoh, life remained dormant ready to sprout forth given the right conditions.

Even so, we have considered how samskaras and vasanas, impressions and latent tendencies, will ever lie latent and dormant, without effectively making their appearance felt as part of our life, without becoming dynamically active, vigorously expressed and manifested in our own nature, until and unless they are made to sprout forth, awaken, put forth their fruits, by bringing to bear upon them a keen aspiration, a great desire, an intense longing, a fervent yearning for spiritual unfoldment, spiritual growth, spiritual realisation–subheccha, mumukshutva and jijnasa.

Such was the intensity of aspiration that burned in the heart of young Dr. Kuppuswami when he turned his face north towards the Himalayas and the Ganga and walked the length of India, arriving here towards the end of 1923. He had an intense longing, an all-consuming desire in the heart, a desire implanted by God, which is part of God’s nature, vidya maya. Dharmaviruddho bhuteshu kamo’smi bharatarshabha (In all beings I am desire unopposed to dharma, O Arjuna).

It is such desire that liberates. It is such desire that awakens. It is such desire that brings into dynamism latent tendencies and dormant spiritual samskaras. It is like a flame being applied to a combustible material which will otherwise ever remain dull and cold like any other thing around it. It is only when a flame is applied to it that it immediately bursts forth into a blaze full of radiance, full of heat, full of the power to consume, to reduce to ash anything that comes into contact with it. That power comes when it is awakened, made to manifest in an active way.

That was what happened. Dr. Kuppuswami’s heart was afire for Self-realisation, for brahma-jnana, to become a jivanmukta, to have the peace that passeth understanding, to have the sukham-atyantikam yattad-buddhigrahyam-atindriyam (endless bliss beyond the senses that may only be grasped by the pure intellect), paramananda (supreme bliss) which gives nityatripti (eternal satisfaction). And he kept this longing ever clean, ever ablaze, ever fiery; he never allowed it to die down or become dull or become mediocre. It was kept to a high intensity of heat through his fervour through his zeal, through his enthusiasm, through his keen longing and eagerness.

It was this that was the key to the Self-realisation, sainthood and sagehood of beloved and worshipful Guru Maharaj Swami Sivanandaji. This is the factor that causes a latent force, a spiritual force and power, to make itself actively manifest, to be dynamically expressed in our life as a transforming power, an uplifting force. If it is kept us to the very last, it takes us to the supreme state of blessedness and crowns our life with the glory of God-realisation.

And Guru Maharaj was that awakening and sparking factor who ignited within you the dormant and latent spiritual tendencies through his wisdom teachings. It is when you opened a book of his and your eyes alighted upon some page. That is what caused the miracle. That became the tuning point. Immediately the latent and dormant spiritual samskaras and vasanas sprang forth into dynamism. For innumerable souls all over the world in this twentieth century, the wisdom teachings of Gurudev have acted as a sparking factor, as that sudden, awakening touch, transforming force. Thousands and thousands of lives all over the world have been transformed by his power of grace, by the power of his wisdom teachings.

But then, sparks are to be fanned. Flames are to be fed with fuel. If the fuel that is there is burned up, then the fire dies out and it becomes ash. It has to be stoked; it has to be fed with fresh fuel, and it is an ongoing, continuous process. It is not as though if you put some burning material into the fireplace that it will go on burning forever. No, it does not happen that way. It is not so.

This being Gurudev’s sannyasa day, let us consider what sannyasa is, what constitutes sannyasa. Guru Maharaj was very specific about it. He said that merely shaving the head and putting on coloured cloth does not make you a sannyasin. A change of location does not make you a sannyasin. Coming away into seclusion or sitting on a mountain top or inside a cave in the forest does not constitute sannyasa, if together with this outer giving-up or renunciation, you have not simultaneously also kept up a process of a constant and a continuous inner giving up, an inner renunciation of the false ideas that “I am this body, I am a human individual, I am a physical being, I am a psychological being, I am mind, I am emotion, I am sentiment, I am thought, I am desire, I am memory, I am longing, I am imagination.”

All these ideas constitute ignorance. All these falsehood should be renounced. They should be rejected. Truth has to be affirmed again and again and yet again. The essence of renunciation, therefore, is renunciation of this identification with the human, individual personality and all that it constitutes, its entire make-up, right from the physical up to the subtle–memory and imagination, projecting into the future and identifying with the past.

Gurudev was very specific. To lead the spiritual life it is not necessary to withdraw into the forest, hide oneself in a cave or go to a mountain top. What is needed is the renunciation of false ideas, of identification with the false human personality. It requires renunciation of ego, abhimana, ahamkara, renunciation of desire, renunciation of attachment, renunciation of mamata and asakti (mine-ness and attachment).

Again and again, in all the eighteen chapters of the Bhagavad Gita wisdom teachings, nirmama, nirmoha and anasakti (absence of mine-ness, absence of attachment and dispassion) have been stressed. Thus true renunciation, true sannyasa, constitutes giving up this false idea: “I am a human individual. I am a physical being, I am a mental being, I am an emotional, sentimental being, I am an intellectual being. I am a being separate from God, apart from all others.” All that is ignorance. That is bondage. That is samsara. That is maya. That is prapancha. That is individuality. Renunciation of this is real sannyasa.

Renunciation of the ego that comes out of this ignorance, this identification–that is sannyasa. Renunciation of selfishness that springs out of the ego–that is sannyasa. Renunciation of attachment that springs out of another aspect of ego, I-ness and mine-ness–that is sannyasa. Renunciation of desires, the innumerable desires–their number is legion–that follow in the train of ego identification, attachment and selfishness–that is real tyaga, that is real sannyasa.

Once desire is given up, one no longer has any sankalpa, no other spriha (desire) other than devotion to the lotus Feet of the Supreme, devotion to attain aparoksha’nubhuti (direct, actual experience). “I am a mere instrument; whatever is being done, Thou it is that doest all.” This idea becomes firmly implanted in the consciousness, and then only sankalpa is no longer there. That is the state of sannyasa. That is the state of real renunciation.

God bless you to ponder these truths that have been shared with you this morning by the prompting of Guru Maharaj. May the grace of the Almighty make you a true sadhaka, a real devotee of the Lord, a real renunciate and a real walker upon the path of spirituality and spiritual life! God bless you all!