Swami Yatiswarananda (1889 – 1966) was a sage, in the great lineage of the monks of Sri Ramakrishna Math. I know of three elders in my family who received initiation from Him, and His memory is enshrined in the spiritual consciousness of ever so many families across India and the world. I have been looking around for many years for a biography of this sage. A week ago, I was delighted to find that the Chennai branch of Sri Ramakrishna Math has now brought out a two volume compilation about the great sage, under the title “Swami Yatiswarananda As We Knew Him”. Here is a picture of the cover…
Swami Yatiswarananda was a Bengali, who belonged to the second generation of disciples of Sri Ramakrishna. The first generation disciples comprised a grand panorama of sages – Swami Vivekananda, Brahmananda, Turiyananda, Akhandananda, Ramakrishnananda, Sivananda, Premananda, Adhbutananda and others (sixteen in all). Swami Yatiswarananda was a disciple of Swami Brahmananda, also known as Raja Maharaj – the regal monk. Such was Swami Yatiswarananda’s surrender and absorption in his Guru that he became one with that consciousness . Indeed, many monks have said that if one desired to see how Swami Ramakrishna’s direct disciples were like, one should see Swami Yatiswarananda. Such was his spiritual stature.
Swamiji was posted to Europe in 1930-s and then by a divine direction, he left for America a day before the World War 2 bombing started in the place where he resided. He then continued his services in America. In all he spent around 17 years in the two regions, before heading back to India. In India, he has been the President of Ramakrishna Ashrama in Bengaluru, Chennai and Mumbai. The present temple that one sees in the Math at Basavanagudi in Bengaluru was constructed during his tenure. He served as the President of the Bengaluru Asrama from 1951 to 1966.
The book is a must read. One gets a darshan of a sage who brought the very presence of the Master, Sri Ramakrishna, when he initiated lay disciples. One can feel the palpable presence of his Guru , Swami Brahmananda, in all that Swamiji did…How Swami Brahmananda had given him upadesha to “Struggle, struggle, struggle”; how he had gifted him his footwear after a tour to South India; how he had admonished the Madras Math chief when he found that the young Brahmachari Suresh (pre monastic name of Swami Yatiswarananda) was being immersed in Clerical work. When the temple at Madras Math was consecrated by Swami Brahmanananda, it was Brahmachari Suresh who performed the Aarati on that day. The book describes – “That evening after consecration, Suresh was performing the Aarati for Sri Ramakrishna when he felt everything around him was filled by a vast Divine Presence. The picture of Sri Ramakrishna and the living form of Sri Maharaj and the assembled devotees all seemed to be throbbing with that Divine Presence. This experience recurred throughout Swami Yatiswarananda’s life whenever he performed the Aarati. It was a blessing of his Guru”.
Here is a picture of Swamiji as a young man – absorbed in meditation…
Swamiji’s spiritual stature was such that he could visualize the “kula deivam” or “ishta deivam” of the disciples he was initiating, even if they were not aware it, or correct them if they had a mistaken notion. He was indeed blessed with special spiritual powers to act as a vehicle of compassion of the Great Master – Sri Ramakrishna. In October 1965, Swami Madhavananda, the President of the Order, left the earthly abode. The trustees then were unanimous in their decision to request Swami Yatiswarananda to take over as President. But Swamiji declined, saying that – “The seat which has been adorned by direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna I hold myself too insignificant a being to occupy it. Besides, my health is steadily declining and will not permit the exertions of the office of the President for long…”
Swamiji was absorbed in His Master in January, 1966.
The two volume compilation about the Swamiji is yet another blessing for the world from Sri Ramakrishna Math. Containing a brief biography and many reminiscences from monks and disciples, the compilation is in the form of two hard bound volumes of over 750 pages each. And there is an Audio CD of his talks that comes in the flap. Prices at just Rs 200/- for the set, this is practically being given away free by the Math.
Go get it.
Signing off this post with a youtube clip that shows Swami Yatiswarananda, in America…. Swami in western attire..
Jai Guru Maharaj! Jai Sarada Ma! Jai Swami Vivekananda!