A Guru’s Love

Swami Dharmashakti Saraswati

Swami Satyam is overcome by emotion whenever he talks about his guru. His voice grows heavy with emotion, lending an air of gravity to the atmosphere. Glory to the great guru, Swami Sivananda and glory to his equally great disciple, Swami Satyananda!

Swami Sivananda used to say, “Physical labour is also a sadhana. It exhausts one’s samskaras, thereby making one’s mind one-pointed.” The guru is great and the disciple, born and brought up in the lap of luxury, educated in an elite convent school, now having embraced discipleship, is busy imbibing his guru’s each and every word. Great indeed is the disciple as well, who climbs up and down hundreds of steps fetching sixty or seventy bucketfuls of water from the Ganga, carries heavy loads of bricks, stones, lime and sand on his back, gathers firewood, bel leaves and flowers from the jungle, walks many miles to the market and brings back a heavy load of vegetables on his head. He who had never washed a plate in his life is now busy cleaning pots and utensils bigger in size than him. It is not easy to clean pots blackened by charcoal soot.

After all their labours, the food they got was barely enough to fill their stomachs. But the disciples treated the coarse, meagre food as nectar itself. Surviving on rice and rasam, brahma khichari and buttermilk, these young men could run around all day long doing all kinds of strenuous tasks. After a refreshing dip in the Ganga, they could stay up all night long, singing kirtan or meditating in padmasana or translating books. This extraordinary capacity for work was an outcome of the guru’s blessings, and the disciples’ own devotion. Mental prowess is definitely strengthened by physical prowess.

When Swami Satyam sat down to do translation work, he would not know when the day ended and night began. He would continue writing well into the next day. Then Guruji would have to intervene himself. Here is an interesting anecdote . . .

Once Swami Satyam had sat down to translate a thick book. Foregoing meals and sleep, he was writing without a break. At such times, his face would light up with an indescribable radiance. Mata Krishnananda was repeatedly telling him to take a break and eat something. But he used to be in a samadhi like state while writing. Krishnananda noticed that for the second consecutive day, Swami Satyam hadn't got up for rest or repast. She found some milk in the kitchen and, putting it on his table, she said, “You haven’t eaten anything since yesterday. Please drink this milk and then continue your writing.” When Swami Satyam did not answer, she insisted, “Please listen to me and drink it quickly.”

Swami Satyam was greatly annoyed by this repeated obstruction to his writing. Shouting, “Don’t disturb me!” he loudly banged his hand on the table. The glass of milk fell over. Mata Krishnananda quickly left the room. Swami Satyam’s face had become red. He shut the door, tied a sheet around his head and went to sleep.

His guru bhais were greatly concerned. When Swami Satyam did not open the door despite repeated knocking, they went and reported the matter to Guruji. He immediately came to Swami Satyam’s room and called out his name. Swami Satyam opened the door and bowed to Guruji. Swami Sivananda patted him on the back and said, “O Swami Satyanandaji, please come to my kutir after having your meal.” And in order to ensure that he had his meal, he served the food himself and then took him to his kutir. He talked about a few general things and gave him some specific tasks. When Swami Satyam returned to his translation work in his kutir, he was again in high spirits. Such was the love and care that Guruji showered on his disciples!

Printed in Mere Aradhya