Today is Guru Poornima.
Today is also the day that the centenary year of a great sage begins.
On 25th of July, 1911, on Amavasya day, a spark of divine was born in the village of Maharai, in the region of Varanasi. Named as Shantanu Vihari, he went on to become the great sage Swami Akhandananda Saraswati.
Known fondly as Maharajshri, he is one of those who represent the best of Indian spiritual and religious traditions. In him was the confluence of all philosophical systems. He was a very great exponent of Srimad Bhagavata, and resided in Brindavan. He was a supreme Advaitin, and a disciple of the great Advaitin sage, Udiya Baba (Sri Poornananda Teertha). He was a supreme scholar of all Shastras, and has written almost 200 books on all aspects of spirituality. He has delivered countless Pravacans on Bhagavata, Upanishads, Gita, Ramayana, and many more. He has been on Yatra across the length and breadth of our country, and has moved with many of the great sages of his time. To say anything about him, is like holding a candle to the Sun.
On this holy day of Guru Poornima, I attempt to share some brief information from Maharajshri’s great spiritual memoir “Pavan Prasang”. This relates to his supreme enlightenment experience.
Five miles from Maharajshri’s village, there lived a sage, Swami Yogananda Puri, in the village of Sahepur. Guided by Swami Yogananda Puri, Maharajshri first completed a Purascharana of Gayatri Mantra (a Sadhana that involves Japa of Gayatri Mantra 24 Lakh times, alongwith associated vows and rituals). Upon the completion of the Purascharana, he was initiated into Krishna Mantra Upasana by Swamiji. Advised by Swamiji that it takes four times the effort in Kali Yuga, Maharajshri applied himself totally to his absorption with the Sadhana… He led a life of tremendous asceticism in Varanasi… Fourth Anushttaana of Krishna Mantra Japa was also completed… However, his spiritual goal of God Realization still eluded him…
I attempt to give below, a translation of an excerpt from his book “Pavan Prasang”, where he describes what happened next, leading to his experience of enlightenment. He has written about this in two different parts of the book, and I have combined the information therein.
“At my place of stay, I locked myself, and deliberated – “What should I do now? Japa, fasts, spiritual practices have all been done to the extent that I possibly can. My attempt at dispassion-renunciation too has ended up in vain. It is indeed impossible to undertake more spiritual-effort than what I am doing now. It appears as if this body is not fit to experience God-realization. In which case, would it be ok to cast off the body? But no. Both. clinging to the body, or casting it off, are signs of attachment to the body identification as “mine”. So what then is the means? Means! Where-from is any strength to come to any “means”! Is it all possible for me to realize God based on my own strength?”
“And then, in one moment, “my” spiritual effort, the means, and all strength of reason got destroyed. My “I” was not cognized anymore. Just as the case of a person who keeps holding on to his “I” notion, and claims that he has realized the Self or Brahman, is a false belief, so also, if a “part” of a “whole” keeps exercising its own strength, and then proudly claims that it has now attained realization of the “whole”, then surely this is but a figment of imagination. Enough of my words, my efforts, my motives! Enough! Enough! Now I can do no more. As soon as I achieved this state of no-effort, no-“I”, then, spontaneously, in the dark house, a Supreme Radiance throbbed forth! In that radiance, the earth, the house, the tiles, the cot, and my body – everything was destroyed. Sans any material substance, sans any spiritual effort, sans any mind-mood, sans any cause, what is this radiance that is being experienced? It was incredible, awesome, and I was somewhat mad with joy! I could neither fold my hands, nor bow my head, nor prostrate on the ground!
And then, in fullness of bliss, I started dancing! My hair was standing on end! Completely filled with joy, I stepped out! When I came out of the room, the first person that I saw was my mother, and I could not keep this experience a secret from her! I exclaimed to to her that I have found God!”
Maharajshree summarizes the experience and says : “When the hold of “I” and “Mine” broke down, when all means had failed to deliver, then out of this “Not”-ness, the Supreme-Goal emerged!”
Bowing to Paramatma, who comes as Sagduru, I conclude this post with Pranams to all.
Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya!
(To know more about Maharajshri, go to the AnandVrindavan website by clicking here )