4 July 2013

Swami Satchidananda and the Question

Throughout my life I have been a tennis aficionado; in my youth I used to play the game regularly but now that I am older and more sedate, I have become an “armchair” enthusiast. So when Wimbledon, the pre-eminent Tennis Tournament, comes along, I enjoy keeping up-to-date with what’s happening. And it is also during the time of each years' Wimbledon that I am reminded of a delightful experience that happened in 1985. 

In that year I was fortunate enough to be able to spend two months at Anandashram, Kanhangad, Kerala. Many devotees of Arunachala know of this beautiful ashram and of its long, loving links with the Hill. During my stay there I spent time with Mother Krishnabai and Swami Satchidananda and thereafter over the years occasionally wrote to Swamiji with spiritual questions. Even though he was probably inundated with duties, he always found the time to write lovingly and at length in response to my questions. Because of Yogi Ramsuratkumar’s link with his Guru; Swami Ramdas and Anandashram, Swami Satchidananda was invited as revered guest to inaugurate the opening of Yogi Ramsuratkumar’s ashram at Tiruvannamalai. Sadly on October 12th, 2008, Swami Satchidananda cast of his physical body in which he had served humanity for over sixty years. 

Swami Satchidananda

As to that delightful experience that occurred in July, 1985 it goes something like this:- 

As Anandashram was quiet and with very few visitors, I was able to spend most of the day and evenings with Mother Krishnabai in her room. When there was darshan, a procession of devotees would come briefly to Mother (who was sitting on her cot), to speak privately and ask for her blessings. At other times a small number of pilgrims would sit at Mother’s feet while she sat on her cot and we would all chant mantras with her. Less frequently I would have the opportunity to sit in Mother’s room, silent and for all intent and purpose quite invisible. 

One evening very late, was such an occasion. Mother Krishnabai was sitting on her cot and only she and I, were in the room. It was a beautiful evening, cool and silent with just a faint noise of crickets coming from the lush gardens outside. The door opened and Swami Satchidananda entered. He moved to Mother’s cot and started talking with her in Malayalam. As they talked their eyes sparkled with intelligence and merriment and their faces shone liked burnished gold. As I sat there, like the proverbial “fly on the wall,” I was taken up by the other worldly beauty of the moment. The room seemed to be expanding and contracting, and the bodies of the two saints appeared to be shimmering in golden effulgence. Their conversation went on for a long time and I just sat there revelling in the experience of watching these two great Masters interacting on Mount Olympus. It was an extraordinary moment. Afterwards I wondered to myself, “What could they have been talking about?” How could it have been anything but the most profound. Maybe they were discussing some great spiritual conundrum that night. My mind was busy with possibilities!

The next day, when meeting Swami Satchidananda, I enquired, “Swamiji, please don’t misunderstand my reason for asking, but last night when you visited Mother Krishnabai in her room, you probably didn’t notice me but I was there and it seemed to me that some extraordinary conversation was occurring between the two of you. Will you please tell me what it was you were you talking about?” 

Swami Satchidananda paused recollecting the moment, and then burst out laughing. “Oh no! It was not like that, it was nothing earth shattering. Yesterday evening I visited Mother to tell her that I had been listening to the World Service radio coverage of Wimbledon tennis, and that a 17 year old German boy, Boris Becker, had just won the Men’s Championship.” 

Like Sri Sathya Sai Baba would often say, “Spiritual Life—no pressure, only pleasure.” Thank you Swami Satchidananda for a wonderful experience to always remember you by.

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