4 June 2009

Swami Abhishiktananda

Swami Abhishiktananda was born Henri Le Saux 30th August, 1910, at St. Briac in Brittany in France. At an early age he felt a vocation to the priesthood and in 1929 he decided to become a monk and entered a Benedictine Monastery. In 1949 he visited Tiruvannamalai and Sri Ramana Maharshi, and his life took a decisive turn. His initial encounter with Ramana was enhanced by several retreats that he later took in caves on Arunachala. For an earlier post on Swami Abhishiktananda, click on Arunachala Secret.

"I regard this stay at Tiruvannamalai as being at one a real retreat and an initiation into Indian monastic life."

Swami Abhishiktananda spent periods both at the foot of Arunachala and in its various caves between 1949 and 1955, however, during those years his permanent residence was at the ashram of Shantivanam which he had co-founded in: "an attempt to integrate into Christianity the monastic tradition of India."

Later, Le Saux encountered other teachers in the tradition of non-dualism that included Gnanananda Giri of Tapovanam Ashram (not far from Shantivanam) and Poonja-ji. Le Saux considered Giri to be his guru and took the name of Abhishiktananda (Bliss of the anointed). In 1968 Swami Abhishiktananda left Shantivanam, to live the life of a hermit in the Himalayas near Uttarkashi. (Shantivanam was then taken over by Bede Griffiths (1906-1993), who focused on the complementarities of religions and through whose presence the ashram gained world-wide renown).

Swami Abhishiktananda left Shantivanam, to live the life of a hermit in the Himalayas near Uttarkashi. (Shantivanam was then taken over by Bede Griffiths (1906-1993), who focused on the complementarities of religions and through whose presence the ashram gained world-wide renown).






Of Arunachala; Swami Abhishiktananda was to say:

' . . . the South (Arunachala) is my "birth-place".'

And of his own spiritual experience at the sacred Hill, he was to write:

"Anyone who is the recipient of this overwhelming Light is at once petrified and shattered; he can say nothing, he cannot think anymore; he just remains there, outside space and time, alone in the very aloneness of the Alone; it is an unbelievable experience, this sudden revelation of Arunachala's infinite pillar of light and fire."

“Everything has become clear. There is only the Awakening. All that is notional – myths and concepts – is only its expression. There is neither heaven nor earth, there is only Purusha, which I am… ”


His Sayings:

"God is too close to us. That is why we constantly fail to find him. We turn God into an object — and God escapes our grasp. We turn him into an idea — but ideas pass him by."

"The present moment is all that matters; tomorrow is God's business."

2 comments:

Will Yaryan said...

Any idea where this colorized photo of Abhishiktananda comes from? I wanted to use it for LibraryThing but was told it was copywrighted.

Meenakshi Ammal said...

Nowadays with so many online photograph resources like Flickr, Google, Esnips etc.,available, its difficult to remember what comes from where. And in respect of the photograph to which you are referring, don't recall its history.

However the rights of most recent Arunachala and Temple photos have either been purchased from recognised photographers or taken by myself. Or are in the public domain. And for this reason are stored in high resolution available for enlargement by click through.

In the case of photographs, upon which I don't have specific rights (like the photo to which you are referring), only a compressed resolution is available, so no enlargement is possible.