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Memories of Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda

I met my guru Swami Chinmayanandaji for the first time in 1972, in the Sandeepany gurukulam [Sandeepany Sadhanalaya] in Mumbai. By then I had already been an inmate of the grrukulam for a couple of months and Swamiji had just come back after a world tour. We brahmacharis and brahacharinis of the ashram received him at the gate with a poornakumbha, all of us chanting the mantras that are traditionally used to receive a sannyasi: na karmana na prajaya dhanena tyagenaike amritatvam anashuh parena nakam nihitam guhayam vibhrajate yad yatayo visanti

vedantavijnana-sunischitarthah sannyasayogad yatayas shuddha sattvah
te brahma loketu parantakale paramritat parimuchyanti sarve

dahram vipapam varameshmabhutam yat pundareekam puramadhya sam’stham
tatrapi dahram gaganam vishokah
tasmin yatantas tad upasitavyam
yo vedadau svaraprokto vedante cha pratisthitah
tasya prakritileenasya yah parah sa maheshvarah

Not by rituals, not by progeny, not by wealth, But by renunciation is immortality attained. The…

To Meditators: Practical Suggestions for Achieving Inner Silence

Dharamshala,
India: Photo by Anagha M.

I teach a course called Zen and the Executive Mind in one of the top business schools in India. Zen means meditation and meditation is something to be practiced rather than discussed; and naturally, practice of meditation is central to the course. A common difficulty practitioners of meditation run into is their inability to achieve inner silence – not just my students, but all meditators all over the world face this problem. It is for this reason that one of the most frequently asked questions about meditation is about the difficulty to control the mind, to control the thoughts in the mind during meditation. In fact, as you move into meditation, the mind appears to become more restless, more chaotic.  It is only partly true though; the other part is that normally we are not aware of the chaos in the mind, but in meditation we become aware of it. In this short article, we are going to take a look at how we can achieve inner silence in meditation a…

Ananda Bhairava and Saying Yes to Life

Reading a Darshan Diary of Osho Rajneesh last evening I came across the advice the master gave to one of his disciples who had just been initiated into sannyas. The man, apparently not an Indian, had been given a new name as is customary during such initiations: Anand Bhairava. Osho explained: the word anand means bliss and bhairava means God – so his new name means the God of Bliss.


He then explained to the new sannyasin that Bhairava is one of the names of Lord Shiva and Shiva is God who celebrates life, God who is life affirmative and not life negating. He is not against life, but for it. Osho asked his disciple to constantly remember not to deny anything, not to fight with anything, not to carry any condemnatory attitude.

“Love is affirmation,” said Osho. “When you say yes to life, you are loving, you are flowing. When you say no to life, you are stuck, frozen. That’s how people have become stuck – by saying no to many things. There are people who cannot say yes. No comes very e…

Aangirasi: Woman who Changed Rama’s Ancestry

We do not know her name, so we will call her Aangirasi. It is the Mahabharata that tells her story – and in the story she has no name. Like so many other women in our epics – Rama’s mother Kausalya, Bharata’s mother Kaikeyi, Duryodhana’s mother Gandhari, to name just a few important women – she is a woman without a name. And yet her story is powerful in itself to be told here, apart from the fact that she plays a decisive role in the ancestry of Rama. Since her time, the blood of the Ikshwaku’s would no more be pure kshatriya blood, assuming it had so far been so. It would be mixed with brahmana blood, through an act of niyoga – the same act through which at a later time Dhritarashtra, Pandu and Vidura would be born in the Bharata family through Sage Vyasa, through which the founders of Anga, Vanga, Kalinga, and Paundra would be born to the family of Emperor Bali through the sage Deerghatamas.
We would call her Aangirasi because her husband, whom the epic simply calls a brahmana and w…

How Great Masters Teach: A Few Stories

A legendary spiritual master born in Kerala, the land famous for acharyas like Shri Shankara, is Pakkanar, a pariah by birth. Numerous stories are told about how he gave lessons in the highest wisdom to people in his unique ways. In one of these stories, Pakkanar meets on the road a group of brahmanas who were on their way to Kashi, the holiest of holy places in India. He greeted these men as was appropriate for someone born to one of the lowest castes in the caste hierarchy and enquired of them where they were going. When they replied they were going to Kashi, Pakkanar showed them his walking stick and asked them, “Could your lordships do me a favour? Could you take this stick along and give it a dip in the Ganga too?” They were offended by the request. They did not want even to touch a pariah’s walking stick. Why should they carry it all the way to Kashi and give it a bath in the Ganga and bring it back? But the man who was making that request was known to be not an ordinary pariah…