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First Stage

HOW STUDENTS ARE TRAINED

I always loved silent Sadhana in seclusion. During the day for a short period I would write some articles and letters to thirsty aspirants. I did not use a kerosene light, nor did I work at night at any time. I used to come out of my Kutir just for an hour in the morning to serve the sick people with medicine, for a brisk walk in the compound, to bathe in the Ganga and to go to the Kshetra for bringing my food. This sort of routine has become my habit during my thirty-five years of life in Rishikesh. I never indulged in loose talks with friends. When I went to the Kshetra, I observed Mauna. To avoid people, I used to walk through a small foot-path through the jungle. While walking to the Kshetra, I combined deep breathing exercises and mental Japa.

I had no ambition to become world-famous by any extensive tour or thrilling lectures from the platform. I never attempted to be a Guru to anyone. I am not pleased when people call me: "Sat Guru" or "Avatar." I am dead against "Gurudom." That is a great obstacle and has caused the downfall of great men in the spiritual path. "Gurudom" is a menace to society. Even now I ask people to do Namaskar to me mentally. The few lines I wrote to one of my disciples in 1931 convey my attitude clearly:-

"I am only a common Sadhu. I may not be able to help you much. Further I do not make disciples. I can be your sincere friend till the end of my life. I do not like to keep persons by my side for a long time. I give lessons for a couple of months and ask my students to meditate in some solitary places in Kashmir or Uttarkashi."

RESERVE AND HUMILITY

I never said or did anything to tempt people with promises of grand results like Mukti from a drop of Kamandalu water or Samadhi by a mere touch. I emphasised the importance of silent Sadhana, Japa and meditation for a systematic progress in the spiritual path. Invariably I asked all aspirants to purify the heart through selfless service to mankind.

In 1933 the publishers in Madras wrote articles on my life and mentioned me as an "Avatar." Immediately I gave a reply which explains the attitude I have always maintained:-

"Kindly remove all 'Krishna Avatara' and 'Bhagawan' business. Keep the publication natural and simple. Then it will be attractive. Do not exaggerate much about me very often. The juice will evaporate. Do not give me titles as 'World Teacher', 'Mandaleshwar' and 'Bhagawan'. Lay bare the truth, Truth will shine, I lead a simple and natural life. I take immense delight in service. Service has elevated me. Service has purified me. This body is meant for service. I live to serve everyone and make the world happy and cheerful."

Even before donkeys and other animals, I do mental prostrations. To my disciples and devotees, I first do Namaskara. I behold the Essence behind all names and forms. That is real Vedanta in daily life.

GUIDING THE STEPS OF NEOPHYTES

From 1930, many earnest students with a burning desire to devote their lives to spiritual pursuits came to me for guidance. I had also a burning desire to serve the world. Those were the days when Sadhus and Mahatmas lived in peculiar, pitiable conditions-without necessary comforts and conveniences and proper guidance for spiritual evolution. Many tortured the body in the hot sun and in the Himalayan cold. Some were addicted to intoxicating drinks to induce the so-called Samadhi.

With a view to training a band of Sannyasins and Yogins on the right lines, I permitted some aspirants to live in the adjacent Kutirs. I arranged for their meals from the Kshetra and gave them initiation. I arranged all comforts and conveniences for them. I encouraged them and infused Vairagya in them. I took special care of their health. I frequently enquired about their Sadhana and gave useful hints for the removal of their difficulties and obstacles in their meditation. When they offered their services to me, I asked them to go from Kutir to Kutir and find out the old and sick Mahatmas and serve them with Bhakti and Sraddha by bringing food for them from the Kshetra and massaging their legs and washing their clothes.

I asked some educated students to take copies of my short articles and send them to magazines and Newspapers for publication, and devote their time to study, Japa and meditation. They all took great pleasure in copying out my articles, as they all contained the essence of the teachings of all sages and saints, and a clear commentary on the difficult portions of the Upanishads and the Gita. My articles contained practical lessons for controlling the turbulent senses and fluctuation of the mind.

Instead of studying the ancient sacred scriptures for decades, the students spent a few minutes daily in making copies of my articles and thereby learnt Yoga and philosophy easily in a short period. I closely observed their faces to see if they liked the work and then carefully selected matter suited to their taste and temperament and entrusted them with the work. Sometimes I had to do the whole work. I love the students. Unasked, I attended to their needs.

In the case of old persons who had no ties in the world, I welcomed them and encouraged them in carrying on their Sadhana and asked them to take bath in the Ganga and do plenty of Japa and Sravana. I danced in joy when I saw peace and bliss in their face. Thus more and more aspirants came to me, and the Swargashram management could not maintain the increasing number of seekers after Truth. I loved the place and enjoyed the peace, but in the interest of the spiritual uplift of a large number of educated Sadhakas, I decided to leave the Swargashram.


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