October 10, 2008
Om Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram
As you all know, the health of our Pujya Swami Satchidanandaji has not been very good from the past few weeks. Due to weak functioning of the kidneys, collection of fluid in the body and lack of fluid output, the doctors had to resort to dialysis. In spite of regular dialysis the situation has not improved. In fact the condition is not at all encouraging.
At this point in time, we request all devotees to kindly send out
a fervent prayer to Param Pujya Papa and Mataji to relieve Pujya
Swamiji of all his bodily aches, pains and struggles, in whatever
manner they choose.
October 12, 2008
Pujya Swami Satchidanandaji Maharaj attained Mahasamadhi today
(12th October 2008) at 8.10 pm at Anandashram. Pujya Swamiji was an
embodiment of love and a source of solace to every one. Although he
was ailing for quite some time, the end was peaceful. Cremation will
take place tomorrow evening.
Cremation will take place at 5.00 PM (now it'is 10.00 AM). A place has been identified between Papa and Mataji's samadhi mandirs, which Swamiji Himself has suggested long back. They'll be taking Swamiji to the Bhajan Hall at 3.00PM. He will be there for 2 hrs before going....
Unni & Shraddha
Om Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram
Freedom comes only when we know that
we are not the body but the all-pervading Spirit.
- Swami Ramdas
October 11, 2008
Om Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram
“Life is a perpetual adjustment and readjustment -
it is an ever-changing movement on the surface -
but in its depths it is perfect calmness, peace and stillness.
Since universal motion is a wave from the infinite silence and repose,
it has the nature of the source from which it has sprung.
So, bliss is the beginning, the middle and the end of all things - be it static or dynamic.”
- Swami Ramdas
Our great Light in Life has left the physical world; Swami Satchidanandaji left the body in Mahasamadhi at 7:40 this morning, Pacific West Coast Time. Swamiji's earthly incarnation was filled with loving service, and he was Love incarnate. All of us have been touched by his life, whether we met him in the body or not.
During Mother Hamilton's terrific experiences of the Mystical Crucifixion in 1957-8 while at Anandashram Mother said that Swami Satchidananda, of everyone there at the Ashram, had the most compassion for her. She always spoke of Swamiji with the highest regard.
When I went to Anandashram in 1998-9 and met Swamiji, I felt that God had directed me there so that he might help me get the fullest God-realization. For four months I stayed exclusively at the Ashram and daily I received the great Light he embodied. I came to regard him as my second Mother, after Mother Hamilton. It may sound odd that I would regard Swamiji as a second Mother, but I found later on that there were many who regarded Swamiji as their spiritual Mother. It was the great universal love he projected that made me feel that here was one who truly loved me, down to the Soul.
Each time I came to the Ashram he treated me with wonderful love. He would call for a chair to be seated next to his, hold my hand and evince such love and joy as to overwhelm my heart. He effortlessly controlled the river of my heart, which, in his presence, overflowed its own banks and flooded my entire Being.
Numberless are the Graces that flowed from his titanic Being to all of us who are with Mother. Special arrangements for rooms, unlimited stay at the ashram, special juices and prasad sent to our rooms, special times for seeing him, and most of all a spiritual power that effortlessly flowed to all of us throughout our stays at the Ashram. All at Anandashram made us feel that somehow the Ashram held a special place in its heart for all of us. I feel that Mother paved the way for us there, and that she made the way so much easier than what she went through. It is not that everyone who has gone to Anandashram from Mother's lineage has had an easy time of it while there— far from it; for with great spiritual power comes a stirring up of every aspect of the ego-mind. However, this stirring up is Grace as well, for when the ego is in turmoil and we keep the mind on God we are propelled toward God-consciousness.
It is, of course, impossible to encapsulate a life in a few sentences (how much harder is it to describe the life of a great Saint); I can only hint at Swamiji's glory. Now that Swamiji has left the body he is done with physical distress and difficulty, and for that I am thankful. However the world has lost a physical representation of the great Light of God, and for that I am extremely sorry; for his life has helped this world immeasurably.
Please light a candle for Swamiji in your heart, hold it steady; even from this day forward. As you do little acts of kindness and service, feel that he is with you. There is a special blessing when you put your thoughts on a great saint, and I feel that Swamiji was the greatest living spiritual Master in the world these past years.
May you ever be in the blessings of Swamiji to attain your highest Realization,
Om Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram,
By Swami Satchidananda
Published in Golden Jubilee Souvenir of Swami Satchidanandaji’s Dedication,
January 26, 1999
Coming to Anandashram in January 1949 was like returning home, my real home. Beloved Papa was my all in all. Beloved Papa’s influence on me was so strong that my accepting him as everything was spontaneous. Before I understood and accepted Pujya Mataji as my mother, I could feel, from the way she observed me, took care of me and showered her love on me unobtrusively, that she had already accepted me as her child. Beloved Papa and Mataji were gracious enough to permit me to serve them.
From the next day of my arrival at the Ashram, I kept myself busy serving Beloved Papa and Mataji in every possible way and in a very short time I was no longer a newcomer. I mixed with them and all others in the Ashram so freely that soon I became one with the Ashram. I found in Beloved Papa and Mataji my divine parents and in all the Ashramites and visitors my brothers and sisters. I found real peace and joy in life, the like of which I had never enjoyed till then. I was so buoyant as if I was walking in the air, having come back home and found my real parents.
I had fully dedicated my life for serving Beloved Papa and Mataji. Gradually I understood that, they being everything and beyond, serving them meant serving everybody else also.
By giving me an opportunity to be with them and to serve them, they graciously revealed their true nature and helped me to understand them, though with very great difficulty and inner conflict. It is not easy to understand saints and their ways. The ego in us will misdirect us and misconstrue things so as to create confusion. By their grace alone we can really understand them.
They taught me that Sadhana was not merely sitting still in meditation with closed eyes, but also living a normal life with constant God-remembrance and doing all acts dedicating them to Him, thus making every movement of the Sadhaka an act of worship.
By their living in our midst with Universal Vision and by their spontaneity, simplicity, humility and nobility, they taught me that the purpose of human life is to realise God and how a person who has realised God loves, talks and acts. They taught me how one can live for others, how one can embrace the whole world as one’s own and how one can love others, not merely without expecting anything in return but also when the return was unpalatable. They taught me by their actions and attitude how one can remain in the world perfectly detached like water-drops on a lotus leaf. I saw how they sometimes faced unpleasant situations and could laugh over them like children.
I came to them absolutely raw and shapeless like a lump of clay. I surrendered to them. They graciously took me in hand, pressed, crushed and moulded me to give shape to make me their instrument to serve all.
To meet saints is a blessing. To be with them is a greater blessing. To be given a chance to serve them is a great privilege.
My deepest gratitude to them which can be expressed only by ever keeping my head at their lotus feet.
“The greatest acquisition of human life is Divine love. Divine love is the love for the Lord seated in the hearts of all beings and creatures. This love is attained by the devotee in the first place only through the realization of the Lord in his own heart. The Lord is the master of the worlds. He pervades the entire universe. He is the supreme ruler of all the planes and spheres of existence. Since He is everywhere and all, to behold Him in all beings and love them all is the true adoration of the Lord. In this vision of love, the apparent good and evil have no significance. This love is based upon equality and a consciousness of universality. Divine love is absolutely pure and crystalline. It does not see distinctions, and so has no likes and dislikes. It flows from the heart of the devotee, and floods the world embracing and absorbing all alike, just as the light from the sun shines equally on all. It sheds its sweetness on all to the same degree. The devotee who has realised this exalted love is spontaneously blissful in all his activities, since these are permeated through and through with love! The real joy of the eternal is conceived in the womb of Divine love. Divine love expresses itself in cheerfulness, contentment, self-sacrifice, forgiveness, compassion and peace.”
— Swami Ramdas
A biographical sketch of Pujya Swami Satchidananda, from Golden Jubilee Souvenir of Swami Satchidanandaji’s Dedication, January 26, 1999
“So far as man can sweep his thought into the earliest origins of the history of mankind, he cannot fail to observe all through its course, a galaxy of souls standing out as distinctly different in nature, temperament and vision from the common run of human beings" says our revered Master Swami Ramdas (Beloved Papa). True to this tradition, souls of a high order have blessed this great land of ours with their holy presence, from time to time, and helped humanity to improve their standard of life. One such soul is Pujya Swami Satchidananda.
A study on the early life of Anantasivan, the Purvashram [pre-ashram] name of Pujya Swamiji, reveals that the die was cast, as it were, by his Master—Beloved Papa—right from his childhood, for the role he was destined to play in the noble mission of Universal Love and Service undertaken by Anandashram.
Anantasivan was born to a highly devoted couple on November 12, 1919 at Melarkode near Palakkad in Kerala. His father Mettungal Krishna Pattar was an ardent devotee of the Divine Mother. Anantasivan was only seven when his mother passed away. Signs of mental maturity born of Sattwic traits were predominant in him right from his childhood. Nothing would make him lose his poise and balance.
Even in his school days, he had a feeling that he did not belong to the family and he felt like a stranger in the house. At the same time, the striking trait of his father’s generosity left a deep impression on him during his formative years. He did not like the way people lived—loving only their dear ones, unconcerned with those who were not related to them, inimical to some, hating some, exploiting others for one’s own benefit, etc. Though he disliked such things he had no idea of anything better. Questions of fundamental nature like: “Why this life? What is its purpose?” haunted him constantly and he was trying to find an answer. These questions often drove him to despondency. He even felt life was not worth living. Thus years passed. Yet he could not get the answer to his tormenting questions. The deep frustration in the temporal life sowed the seeds of dispassion in Anantasivan’s heart. And the invisible hand of God was there all the time, protecting, leading and providing him with all that was necessary to shape him for the role he was to play later.
In his classes he was bright and passed his SSLC examination with distinction as was his wont. Though he was keen to pursue his studies, he could not. This brought out a highly individualistic streak in his character and made him resolve not to depend upon anybody for anything. Compelled by the desire to be far far away from his near and dear ones, he joined the Army after a brief stint in a commercial establishment in Coimbatore. Army life taught him how to mix with different people from different walks of life. His intelligence, integrity and devotion to duty won laurels in his office.
On completion of a month in the Army, he was promoted which, with his educational qualification, he could never have dreamt of in the normal course. Even his superiors could not explain how an exception was made in his case. On promotion, Anantasivan soon appeared for the examinations in Ammunition training along with 3 others. Normally he topped the list of successful candidates in all fields. In this case, he came 4th due to a fall on the day of the examination. The first three were sent for further training where unfortunately they all died in an explosion. Had he come first, he would have been among them. Thus it is clear that the fall he had and getting the 4th rank had a divine purpose.
Three times in his Purvashram life, he went through severe mental agony, which shook him up and was instrumental in turning him towards God. The first such experience came about in the early part of his Army life, caused by heavy workload coupled with the ever-persisting questions on the futility of life. At the instance of his colleagues he was back home on a couple of months’ leave. It was then that a suggestion came from his eldest brother to take to chanting of God’s Name and do Sandhya Vandana and Gayatri Japa—the first moves towards God-remembrance. He took to those practices in right earnest. They helped to quieten his mind and gradually he started feeling a sense of peace. At this time he took to reading of spiritual books, the first one being on Kabir followed by Bhagavad Gita.
On rejoining duty and getting involved in work, there was slackness in his Sadhana which resulted in his slipping back into moods of depression. But, he regained his normal self by intensifying his spiritual practices. From then on, his aspiration was to live for God only and not to work for money, name or fame and he felt convinced that one could get peace—everlasting peace—only if one got God-realisation. He also felt that the more he thought of God, the more peaceful his life would be. He then decided to quit the Army and plunge himself into the pursuit of God. Thus God set the stage for his gradual withdrawal from the ephemeral.
Returning home after getting discharged from the Army, Anantasivan engaged himself in Sadhana in all seriousness. As his priorities had now changed, he could not fit himself into the life surrounding him and he became desperate. Deep depression overtook him again. He even tried, unsuccessfully though, to end his life and in doing so, he had the unique experience of feeling that he was separate from the body that was lying stiff. He felt that this was God’s own way of giving him a glimpse of the ever-existing Spirit. And he realised that what was to be annihilated was not the body but one’s identification with the body.
Meanwhile, he was in regular correspondence with one of his colleagues of Army service who also had the same temperament. This friend encouraged him on his spiritual path. It was through him Anantasivan happened to hear about Anandashram and the saint there—Beloved Papa. Events finally led him to Anandashram where he had Darshan of Beloved Papa. He felt he had at last come home—his real home. The feeling that he was a stranger was gone. He knew, he had found his Guru in Papa. The one teaching of Beloved Papa that got embedded in his heart first and helped him move towards Beloved Papa was: “The world is exactly as it should be “. To say so, Anantasivan felt, one had to be a great person.
Anantasivan apprised Papa that he was like a dry leaf that could be blown either to Samsaric [Delusion] or Paramarthic [Transcendent Truth] life and pleaded not to push him to the Samsaric whirlpool. Gracious and all-loving Papa then initiated him with the holy Ram Nam and asked him to repeat it constantly with devotion and faith, assuring him that the Name would give him all that he wanted. To a question whether Papa would reply his letters seeking clarifications on Sadhana, Papa gave a flat ‘No’ and said that if he found doubts were lurking in his bosom, he should take it that he had not done his Ram Nam well. His acceptance of the Guru’s words was total and he never pestered Papa with any doubts thereafter. Though he wanted to be with Papa from then on itself, Papa said he would call him later.
At this time his sister fell seriously ill. He attended on her for three months, serving her whole-heartedly. Simultaneously his mind must have been getting more and more detached from worldly affairs, for he came back to Papa, in utter desperation, and Papa took him in his fold. That was on 26th January 1949.
From then on, he got fully engaged in the service of Papa and Mataji. Some months later, he felt that service done with the right attitude alone would take him to the ultimate. Hence he wanted to first get himself established in it by resorting to solitude and a contemplative life. He expressed it to Papa who readily agreed and told him to go to Rishikesh, stay in a Kutiya and carry on with his Sadhana. Surprisingly Papa also told him to assume Sannyas, gave him ochre clothes and the name Satchidananda. Though he never wanted to adopt Sannyas, he unreservedly accepted Papa’s word. Later he felt Sannyas had protected him from many falls. Now his journey from the state of a seeker to sainthood got accelerated.
Swamiji took to intense Sadhana in Rishikesh as directed by Papa. A few months later when Papa and Mataji planned to go on a tour, he was called back to join them in their travels. An opportunity was thus given to him to closely associate himself with his Masters and serve them in all possible ways. On coming back from the tour, Swamiji wanted to resume his Sadhana at Rishikesh. Papa said ‘Yes’ but Mataji opposed the idea. To Mataji, Guru and God were not separate and serving Guru was serving God. The reason she told Swamiji was that while the Guru—Papa—was very much present here in the Ashram, why should Swamiji go elsewhere in search of God? However, Papa brought about circumstances in such a way that Swamiji finally decided to stay with Papa and Mataji and do his Sadhana by serving them both.
The Sadhana adopted by Swamiji was to chant the Name as much as possible during the day and at the same time to do whatever service he could, looking upon it as service to Beloved Papa himself. That way he did not feel the need to sit and meditate. A remarkable feature with Swamiji was his unconditional acceptance of Papa and Mataji as his Masters and implicit obedience to their advice on spiritual matters. In order that his devotion to Guru was not limited to their physical forms, Swamiji felt every time he touched the feet of Papa Mataji, that he was prostrating before the all-pervading Truth who had come in the forms of Papa Mataji. He also knew that Papa and Mataji were two sides of the same Truth.
On the inner expansion that was taking place in him, Swamiji said: “Till I came to the Ashram, I was identifying myself with a small family, say, I was moving in a narrow circle. But after coming here, I started feeling that I belonged to the entire world, of which the old family was a part. So it was not renunciation of a family but acceptance of all families—the whole world—as mine.”
Papa’s imperceptible influence gradually brought out in Swamiji, a good secretary, a conscientious accountant, a faithful recorder, a loving personal attendant, a homoeopathic practitioner, an able administrator and above all a silent, dedicated soul, loving and serving all. But for Swamiji, the devotees would not have got the precious teachings of Beloved Papa given out on various occasions during travels both within and outside India. Amidst his tight schedule from early morning till late night, Swamiji also found time to record the inspiring events in his Masters’ day-to-day lives. It finally came out in the form of the book The Gospel of Swami Ramdas. Devotees, who read it felt they were in the presence of Papa and Mataji and it, in turn, gave them immense spiritual satisfaction.
The inner riches, though not fully explicit in Swamiji in his early years in Ashram, were noticed by Papa, as was evident in naming him as the successor to Mataji in Ashram administration. In one of his talks, Papa said, “Satchidananda has already taken the leap. He has nothing to be attached to.”
Though the Mahasamadhi of Papa shook him initially, as in the case of everybody, he could get over it by his constant hammering on himself the truth that Papa was beyond the body. The eternal presence of Papa thus never left him.
Then followed twenty-five long years of Tapasya at the feet of Mataji. Subjecting him to a mixture of experiences—sometimes soothing and sometimes painful—Mataji equipped Swamiji fully to attain what he was drafted for. Swamiji accepted all trying situations as tests laid down by his Masters. His devotion to Mataji remained total and absolute. Along with various types of Ashram work, Swamiji took care of Mataji who needed constant and close attention due to her physical ailments. During the last days of Mataji’s earthly sojourn, Swamiji felt a subtle apprehension whether he would be able to handle Ashram affairs after Mataji dropped her body. But before she shed the mortal coil, by her intent gaze and graceful look at Swamiji, Mataji infused strength and courage in him and after that, Swamiji did not have to look back. Devotees coming to Ashram began to feel the presence of Papa and Mataji in Swamiji.
True to the Sankalpa of his great Masters, Swamiji’s Guru-seva goes on as enthusiastically as ever, widening its sphere. The Ashram itself had a facelift. The Samadhi Mandir of Pujya Mataji which looks exactly like that of Beloved Papa, construction of a number of new apartments to accommodate the increasing number of visitors and the beautiful Arch with Ram Mantra inscription at the entrance to the Ashram, construction of a magnificent temple of Sree Rama in Ramnagar to serve as a focal point for the aspiration of the local people, are some of the landmarks that have come up during the last decade under the loving stewardship of Pujya Swamiji. There has also been an overall change in the infrastructure to cater to the expanding activities of the Ashram.
Pujya Swamiji has thus preserved and carried forward Beloved Papa Mataji’s glorious tradition of Universal Love and Service which remains the bedrock of Anandashram—the Abode of Bliss.
“When the heart becomes pure and is awakened to the consciousness of the Divine, the entire human vehicle reflects His light in all its constituents. The body, mind and senses then are permeated with this light. The person so blessed becomes truly a luminous expression of God. The spiritual radiance that goes out from him or her is cool like the rays of the moon and it elevates and heals the mentally diseased souls who come in contact with it. God reveals Himself in all His splendour in the heart of such a great one.”
— Swami Ramdas
By Rev. Yogacharya David Hickenbottom
Published in Golden Jubilee Souvenir of Swami Satchidanandaji’s Dedication,
January 26, 1999
I have just travelled halfway around the world, then halfway around India. I stand poised at the door, ready to have my first Darshan of Swami Satchidananda. For over 24 years I have known about Swamiji through stories that my Guru, Yogacharya Mother Hamilton, had passed on to all her devotees. This great God-man played an important role in her own ascent to complete God-realisation.
Mother first met Swamiji in Seattle, Washington, U.S.A. when he travelled with Papa and Mataji during their 1954 world tour. Then, in response to Papa’s invitation Mother and her husband, Ralph, sold their home all they had in order to come to Anandashram in 1957. Mother came but for one purpose: to attain complete God-realisation.
Her path while at Anandashram was not easy. Papa, however, had given Mother a very rare pronouncement: she would definitely attain her complete realisation, a precious promise indeed! But the way was steep and extremely difficult. Mother always said, “Of all the people at Anandashram, I felt the most compassion and understanding from Satch” (Mother’s endearing nickname for Swamiji). I had absorbed all these remembrances from Mother; including her experiences from two subsequent visits to Anandashram over the next 20 years, in 1968 and 1978.
My own path has now brought me to this sacred sight, this Tirtha of India. Mother’s Mahasamadhi, on January 31, 1991, left me without the physical presence of my beloved Guru. Feeling God’s direction to come here for achieving my final goal, I now stand at Swamiji’s door. In fact, unplanned by me, I am arriving on October 14; it was 41 years ago to the day that Mother had first arrived at Anandashram by the same route from Trichur!
I walk through the door without knowing what to expect. Swamiji is seated, ensconced in ochre coloured clothes and matching chair; he smiles in welcome. I take the “dust of his feet,” and sit in a state of spiritual suspense. My mind is overwhelmed as he asks some simple questions. Inwardly all I want to do is lay my life before him. When he smiles, it is as if the Divine Mother Herself is smiling. As I sit at his feet he fills my waiting soul with God’s love, power and grace. Words fail to describe what it is like for me to be such a small mound in his Himalayan presence.
“All is due to Papa,” he says. “But it is Papa, Mataji and God who are in you Swamiji.” He smiles and lowers his head in humble submission to God and his Gurus. Certainly, Anandashram is an extension of this great son of India. Every one coming to the Ashram is treated by the inmates as if he or she is God come in human form. There are so many examples of selfless service by those who serve here one cannot even begin to list them all. It is all truly a reflection of the light that shines through Swamiji.
Like a river, Swami’s Grace has been flowing to me from his oceanic reservoir since my arrival. One may know the purity of water by how it looks, how it tastes and whether it satisfies the thirst. Likewise, the “taste” of Swamiji has made me know his greatness in God, by the Light I see in him, by the sweetness I feel in his presence, and by the way I am filled with the power, bliss and wisdom of God coming directly from him.
It is now time to take my leave. I bow in deep reverence. Even as Swamiji’s grace has flowed to me, so I know it flow to us all.
May God’s Grace continue to shine through Swamiji, and therefore to the world as a whole. I now leave his physical presence, but the spiritual aura forever lingers within and all about me, my heart full at having met the great Saint of India.
“The ways of a saint are mysterious. He is a glorious embodiment of divinity shedding light and grace on all who come in contact with him. The saint is no doubt all-powerful, because he is a vehicle through whom the divine Shakti reveals itself. Still in the task of uplifting mankind and bringing unity and harmony in the world, he invites help and cooperation of all aspirants and devotees who have faith in and love for him.”
By Larry Koler, U.S.A.
Published in Golden Jubilee Souvenir of Swami Satchidanandaji’s Dedication,
January 26, 1999
I first met Swami Satchidananda on January 30, 1996, when God arranged for me to visit India for a short time. For many years it had been on my mind to visit Anandashram and interview Swamiji and others about my Guru, Yogacharya Mildred Hamilton, whom we lovingly called Mother. Mother met Papa in 1954 and first visited the Ashram in 1957. I also had a keen desire to see the places in the Ashram associated with Beloved Papa’s life, especially the Bhajan hall and his bedroom. Papa blessed me wonderfully while I was there and I have not been the same since.
My first knowledge of Swami Satchidananda came from talks given by Mother Hamilton. Mother had the great privilege of intimately knowing two perfect masters: Paramhansa Yogananda, who was her Guru, and Papa. As such, she talked quite often of her experiences with Papa and the days that she spent with him and of the experiences culminating in her enlightenment through the agencies of both Papa and Yogananda. I view Papa, Mataji, Swamiji and all of Papa’s many devotees through the prism of those vivid descriptions that Mother gave us over the many years of my knowing her.
Mother’s accounts of Swamiji were ones of great love and gratitude. They first met in 1954, during Papa’s and Mataji’s world tour. He was a witness to the great experiences that Mother went through in 1958, while in the Ashram. He once had to pick her up bodily to protect Papa from being knocked over by Mother in her overwhelming desire to perform Pada-puja.
On one occasion, she could not even leave her room (in the West End of ‘L’ building) for 4 ½ months. Sometimes she was tied to her bed. At one moment she was lifted up into the heaven of her own Being and at another, thrust into the darkness of an inner hell. Throughout all these trials, Mother was very appreciative of Swamiji. She often mentioned his love and compassion. It must be realised that it was very difficult for the Ashramites to perform with equanimity the necessary service that Mother required. But Swamiji was unfailingly considerate and concerned for her welfare. The compassion that he showed her was that of a saint, of one who had come only to serve God in whatever way God asked.
Swamiji knew the power and the mystery of Papa. He saw it first hand in many different situations and God chose him well for the many tasks that he undertook. Divine Providence placed him in the unique position to bear witness to Papa’s life. His book, The Gospel of Swami Ramdas, is an example of this. The Gospel is remarkable for two reasons: First, because of the many, varied and amazing things that happened around Papa, and second, because of the keen observation skills that Swamiji demonstrated. His ability to provide objective and necessary background and context for the many stories is as important to the narrative as the bare facts. The richness of Papa’s sense of humour and the poignancy of the many stories illustrating Papa’s profound wisdom and compassion are the reasons why this book is so powerful. This book also contains some fascinating accounts of the exchanges between Papa and Mother.
As for myself, I can say that I have had a glimpse into Swamiji’s subtle nature. Though I am not able to adequately gauge his stature, I can talk about the experience of being in his presence, both bodily and also from afar in America, since saints are not limited by time or space.
The first time that I met him was in his room at the Ashram after the 3:30 daily reading. As I sat there, I felt the nearness of my own Guru. Mother’s presence was palpable and I could feel a subtle spiritual current coming from Swamiji. I was slowly lifted up into the spirit, my body felt disconnected and a sweet feeling of peace and bliss soon overwhelmed me.
It is difficult to know which of the two saints was responsible: Mother Hamilton or Swamiji. Who can say? Mother was on my mind and in my heart the whole time that I was there, so her spirit must have been there. But also, the holy vibrations that surround Swamiji allow anyone to get closer to God, regardless of what the individual’s beliefs or chosen ideals are. I know this because each time that I had Swamiji’s Darshan, I was uplifted.
For three days after my first meeting with Swamiji I was filled with incredible peace and bliss. As I walked around the Ashram, it seemed that the very ground in the Ashram was holy. Each time that I visited Swamiji, I felt the love pour forth from him. I took this as proof of Swamiji’s divine state. Also, it allowed me to let down my guard and to completely relax with him, knowing that I was completely safe with him.
One thing that is interesting about being with saints is the feeling that, though they know your innermost soul and even your thoughts, you never feel intruded upon. I know the reason for this is that their love and compassion is of divine origin. They have only our best interests in mind. When I have spent time with Swamiji or think of him even when halfway round the world in America, I always inwardly see his beaming face and I feel his unalloyed support. With saints you feel all of your burdens lifted from your own shoulders.
I know that the reason that I often felt Mother’s presence when I was with Swamiji was because I was really feeling God’s spirit. Because Mother was the only saint that I had ever met prior to Swamiji, when I felt that pure divine flow of God proceeding out from him, my instinct was to identify that with Mother. Both ideas are right, of course, because these great masters have no individual identity any more—they only use their individual identity for our benefit. On the inner realm only God resides.
By Cate Koler
Published in Golden Jubilee Souvenir of Swami Satchidanandaji’s Dedication,
January 26, 1999
Swami Satchidananda began to have an influence on me long before I met him. I first heard him spoken of by my Guru, Mother Hamilton. She had known him in 1958 when she spent a year at Anandashram and when she later visited in 1968 and 1977. She talked about his kindness and the love and admiration she felt for him. Of course, he also became more familiar to me as ‘S’ in The Gospel of Swami Ramdas.
In 1996, my husband, Larry, visited Anandashram and although I was disappointed not being able to go, I found that Papa blessed me with a feeling that I was sharing some of his experiences there. He returned home quite transformed by his contact with Swamiji and Anandashram and the blessings he had received from Papa and Mataji. I felt compelled to write to Swamiji to thank him for the wonderful experience Larry had at Anandashram.
I was quite astonished to receive a reply—after all, I thought, Swamiji didn’t know me and so many devotees from around the world must be writing to him. His words to me were exactly what I needed to hear. I wrote to him from time to time over the next two years, sometimes in regard to spiritual problems, sometimes because of ill health or questions about my family or work. Each time I got a response which uplifted me, steering me back to the right course. I longed to meet Swamiji and prayed that Papa would allow me to have Swamiji’s Darshan in this lifetime.
God granted me this desire in October 1998 when my husband and I journeyed to Anandashram. Only in the presence of my own Guru have I experienced the kind of upliftment that I felt when being with Swamiji. Words cannot describe the peace, bliss and love. The heart overflows. Swamiji’s being is permeated with serenity; his smile is sweetness itself. I relished every opportunity spent in his presence.
I feel such gratitude for Anandashram and the three great saints who have made it what it is. I am very much aware of what I personally owe to Anandashram. If not for my Guru, I would be lost in the wilderness and she owed her spiritual life to Papa.
By continuing Papa and Mataji’s work in such a perfect way, Swamiji is doing such tremendous service to the world as well as all the individuals who live there or visit. Who can know the extent of that influence? God and the Gurus will forever praise and bless Swami Satchidananda for his love and service to them and to all mankind.
I will be forever changed from having met Swamiji and will be grateful all of my life. He will live forever in my heart and, God willing, I hope to one day sit in his presence again.
Om Sri Ram
Jai Ram Jai
0 Beloved Papa, my Gurudev, guide me to correctly note down how you have been guiding me from childhood to mould my life in such a way as to work out your will through this body, making it as your vehicle. I am blessed that you chose to take me unto your fold, guided me and protected me when in body and continued to do so even after you dropped your physical body. You made me feel your presence constantly and thus became my all-in-all. May you absorb me unto Your Eternal Being. I call You God, I call You Papa. As I started calling You God even before I saw You as Papa, I shall stick to calling You 'GOD'.
GOD was guiding my life from childhood even without my knowledge. It must be only with the purpose of working out His will through His vehicle and mould me for that purpose to what I am today.
GOD made me take birth in a good, cultured, devout but not rich family where I got all love and affection in the human level. God took away my mother - my earthly mother - when I was only six years old so that I should even at that age learn the transitoriness of life. God made my father marry again and when I came to know of it, I felt that human love was such that everyone is for oneself, interested in one's own happiness, more than in the happiness of others however closely related.
GOD made me remain detached from home and relatives and I was a stranger there. God made me a good student and made all the teachers specially love me. God gave me first class in almost all the classes and also first class and first in the school in the SSLC exam. God made others in the house promise that I would be sent for higher studies if I came out in first class. God made them also break that promise to teach me that I should not depend on anybody but myself - I did not know then that it was God Himself who was making me and others do everything. God perhaps did not will that I should have higher studies for reasons known to Him only. He found employment through an uncle in his office, when God through him called me to help him, as he was not in good health. God prompted his boss to appoint me as a typist in the office with one year's increment in the salary though I was a beginner and had no experience in the work.
God later made me disgusted with the routine work and life and the selfishness of people around. God prompted me to search for a job far, far away from home. He made me apply for a job in the Army. God got me selected as a sepoy-clerk in IA&C. God made me pass through new and varied experiences in life to make my vision wider. Exposed to the new surroundings, friends and discipline, I could learn new lessons of value. God made me understand and also witness certain instances to show how human can stoop themselves to animal nature.
Due to all these and the heavy work, I was passing through a period of depression, which resulted in nervous breakdown. God made my well-wisher officers decide to take me to a psychiatrist without my knowledge. Suddenly I found myself standing before a captain asking me many questions and finally wrote the remark, 'No mental derangement yet' and suggested or recommended I should be sent on leave for a change. I was given two months' leave and I went home. On my way back after the leave period, I met my eldest brother at Madras and explained to him the then mental condition of mine. He said he himself had passed through such moods and found that 'Prayer is the only way to mental peace. So take to Prayer. All will be well with you'. That advice struck me and immediately we got some prayer books and a copy of Bhagavad Gita. After I returned to HQ at Chittagong, God made a different person of me. Early morning at about 4, I would take cold bath, read Bhagavad Gita, chant Gayatri and other Mantras. My life pattern changed. I had also by then started feeling the presence of Lord VISHNU in the heart.
It may also be mentioned here that I had absolutely no devotion till then. I had, of course, the practice of going to temples during examination time and pray for success. The other times, I went to temples, were when there were interesting programmes like Harikatha after which a good quantity of Prasad was always distributed. The Prasad was more attractive. At the same time I cannot say I was against devotion. I only felt there was no need yet for it.
The greatest gift that God gave me from these experiences was intense vairagya and a firm decision to entirely devote the future life for the service of God. God mercifully arranged exactly at this time to come in contact with a friend who proved to be a real seeker and helpful for me. He had read many religious books. By his company, God made me read the life of saint Kabirdas, and also made my determination stronger. God made me even boldly say, 'I will realize God in this life itself.
The presence of God - the form of Lord Vishnu with Conch, Disc[i], Gade, Lotus flower, Kirita, Kundala, Lotus-eyes, Vanamala, Kausthuba on the chest, wearing Pitambara, standing on a red lotus flower was felt almost throughout the day and this kept me blissful. All the anxiety had gone and I was buoyant.
Recently, a mother asked me how I look upon her. I replied that I see her as the center of the universe. If anything happens anywhere, it is felt that it is happening in the universal manifestation i.e. Prakriti and Purusha is activating it.
When I look at anybody, I try to see through the body, to be conscious of the Divine pervading it. When I see someone committing a crime like stabbing or theft, I feel that it is not the individual or the body responsible for that crime as the act is committed by the power of the Divine motivating the body. In short, no individual is responsible for what is done through that body. It is the Divine Power - Divine will.
When I think of a person very often, I consider the person only as a part of the universe as all other forms are. My thought goes to that person often because that person in form must be thinking of this form often. If that form is considered as only part of the universe, there is no chance of attachment.
Attachment is affection given to particular individual limiting it to the body and not taking it as a part of the universe.
When I drink anything I look upon that liquid as God Himself, I am drinking God in that form. When I eat something, I am eating God. When I touch something, I am touching God. When I am thinking of anybody, I am thinking of God as she or he is the part of the manifestation of God. Thus I live, move and have my Being in God though yet to be established in that all the time.
At present, God has given or put me in such a position, where I have to deal with many devotees, talk to them and in some cases see them alone to discuss their problems. Before starting the conversation, I bring to my mind that it is only the Divine in one form talking to the Divine in another form seeking guidance. Mysteriously, the guidance comes spontaneously to the entire satisfaction of the person concerned and she or he goes away cheerfully. Every family has got a problem - not one problem, but many. Every one in the family has got her or his own problem. All these problems, if properly analyzed, are due to the assertion of the ego to have its own way overriding others' opinions and views. This naturally creates friction and resentment. In such cases, they are told to have Bhajans daily and chanting of RamNam at home TOGETHER which will bring more harmony among them. They are also asked to freely and frankly discuss their problems with all others and settle the differences straightaway instead of allowing them to get accumulated in the mind like layers of dirt which if not washed away in time will create an explosion, i.e. fight and quarrel - affecting and damaging the foundation of love in the family.
It is really strange that devotees themselves are faced with problems. It is understandable if laymen feel perplexed with problems. Devotees are supposed to remember God always and know that by depending upon God, they are guided safe as children are taken care of by their mother. Surrender to the Divine means perfect faith that the Divine Mother is taking care of us and will do whatever is necessary for us, not as we want, but as He wants. The last portion of the sentence is very important. Those who have surrendered to the Divine have no more choice, no more preference. Whatever comes is joyfully accepted and never ask or crave for anything. This is also the highest renunciation, to remain contented in whatever condition He has placed us.
 Darshan: literally the sight of.
I wrote this article while I was at Anandashram in 1998-9.
 Tirtha: Holy place, literally where three rivers come together to form a sacred confluence. In my case the three rivers were Papa, Mataji and Swamiji.
 Pronam: bowing to feet of a saint. Grace flows from the Saint to a contrite heart.
 Inmates: Papa’s reference to those who serve fulltime at Anandashram.
[i] A conch shell or Shankhya, named "Panchajanya", held by the upper left hand, which represents creativity. The Panchajanya is the originator of the five elements or Panchabhoota - water, fire, air, earth and sky or space. The sound that evolves from blowing this conch is the primeval sound of creation.
The chakra, a sharp-spinning discus-like weapon, named "Sudarshana", held by the upper right hand, which symbolizes the mind. The name Sudarshana is derived from two words - Su, which means good, and Darshan, which means vision. The chakra as a weapon thus indicates the necessity of destroying one's ego and illusory self-existence and developing the vision to identify the eternal truth. The discus has six spokes and symbolizes a lotus with six petals, thus representing the power that controls all six seasons.
A lotus flower or Padma, held by the lower right hand, which represents liberation or dispersion. The lotus symbolizes the power from which the universe emerges. It represents the concentration of truth or Satya, the originator of the rules of conduct or Dharma, and knowledge or Gyana in a single symbol.
Kausthuba on the chest: A celebrated jewel obtained at the churning of the ocean, and worn by Vishnu or Krishna on his bosom.
PITAMBARA Clothed in yellow garments. A name of Vishnu.
Vishnu takes form as an all-inclusive deity, known as Purusha or Mahāpurusha, Paramātma [Supreme Soul], Antaryāmi [In-dweller], and he is the Sheshin [Totality] in whom all souls are contained. He is Bhagavat or Bhagavan, which in Sanskrit means "possessing bhāga (Divine Glory)".
Vishnu possesses six such divine glories, namely,
Jñāna Omniscient; defined as the power to know about all beings simultaneously;
Aishvarya Sovereignty, which persist in unchallenged rule over all;
Shakti Energy, or power, which is the capacity to make the impossible possible;
Bala Strength, which is the capacity to support everything by his will and without any fatigue;
Virya Vigour, or valour which indicates the power to retain immateriality as the Supreme Spirit or Being in spite of being the material cause of mutable creations;
Tèjas Resplendent, or Splendour, which expresses his self-sufficiency and the capacity to overpower everything by his spiritual effulgence; cited from Bhakti Schools of Vedanta, by Swami Tapasyananda.
However, the actual number of auspicious qualities of Vishnu is countless, with the above-mentioned six qualities being the most important. Other important qualities attributed to God are Gambhirya (inestimatable grandeur), Audarya (generosity), and Karunya (compassion.)