Why don't You Eat Badam Halva?

Swami Dharmashakti Saraswati

In this desert of life, many are the beings running after the mirage of pleasure and happiness. Of such deluded, wandering souls is Swami Satyananda the guide. People are searching for a power, a force that not only aids them in the pursuit of happiness, but also alleviates their pain and suffering. Swami Satyam is equipped with such a powerful force. No wonder then that the people of Nandgram were greatly impressed and influenced by his speech, manners, satsangs and lectures.

There are many institutions in Nandgram where saints and sages come regularly and conduct programs. Satyavratji was associated with all of them, but he had a soft spot for the children’s club of Shankar Bhavan (the place where Swami Sivananda had been asked to send a sannyasin to conduct satsangs during the Ganesha festivities in September). At the special request of the Shankar Bhavan people, it was decided that Swamiji’s evening satsangs would be held there.

People poured into Satyavratji’s house all day long. The day would begin at 5 am with an asana and pranayama class and from 6 am onwards, there would be a constant stream of children coming in. The schools were closed for the summer vacations, so the children had a free run of the place. From 2 to 4 pm a satsang would be conducted for the ladies, and at 6 pm everyone would proceed for Shankar Bhavan to attend satsang and return after the end of the satsang at around 9 pm.

Swami Satyananda’s satsangs soon began to be published in the local newspapers and periodicals. At the insistent request of the townspeople, Swami Satyananda went to stay at Shankar Bhavan for a week. The B.N.C. mill was some way off from the town and a vehicle was necessary to get there, making it difficult for most towns people to meet Swamiji. At Shankar Bhavan, the crowds started coming at 5 am and stayed till 10 pm at night!

The children used to spend their entire day there. Swami Satyananda had become their messiah. For the first time in their life, the children had an opportunity to come into close contact with a saint and imbibe some pearls of wisdom. The children would innocently ask, “Swamiji, why don't you sit on a silver chair like the other swamis who come here? And why don’t you eat badam halwa? Once another Swamiji came and he would finish off one kilo of badam halwa, not to mention great quantities of fruit and dried fruits in one sitting! And he wouldn't give us even a tiny morsel as prasad. Why don't you get some badam halwa made for yourself? You hardly eat anything, so all the halwa will come to us as prasad. What fun that will be!”

The children would exhibit various talents all day long. They would sing, dance, play games and enact skits. They learnt many bhajans from Swamiji as well. People would exclaim in surprise, “Who are these kids! The cowherd friends of Sri Krishna or the monkey army of Sri Rama or the ghosts and goblins of Lord Shiva? And who are you? It is way beyond our understanding . . .” Swami Satyananda would laughingly reply, “I am a mere sannyasin and these children are the Ramas, Krishnas and Shivas of the future, the upcoming leaders of the nation . . .”

Whoever met Swami Satyananda or listened to his satsangs even once, could never forget him. Everyone wondered, “How could all these wonderful virtues and qualities have developed in one so young in years? Empathy, self-sacrifice, generosity, truth, unconditional love, affection, childlike innocence, humility, gravity and far-sightedness – all these qualities are thoroughly ingrained in him. His character is worthy of emulation indeed.”

Published in Mere Aradhya, My Beloved Guru