Adventures in Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy and science of spirit. We are one you and I; are you curious why?..


Here is a place to linger, to let your intellect roam. Aatmaavrajanam is being written as a progressive study and, as such, can be read like a book. Anyone arriving at any time can simply start at the very first post and work their way through at their own pace. Please take time to read the info tabs and ensure you don't miss a post, by subscribing to the blog. Interaction is welcomed. Don't be a spectator - be a participator!

In The Footsteps

Hari OM

Story-day is for cultural exploration, puraanas and parables and finding out about leading lights in spiritual philosophy.

One of the sub-threads on this page will be to look at the inspirational figures in spiritual pursuit. We can gain much from investigating as much as possible about the life and motivations of the great thinkers and practitioners who have trodden the path and left something for us to hold onto in order that we might follow them.  For every saint or sage who has the gift of relating the nature of what lies before us, however, there are countless more whom we shall never be able to name.

No justice can be done on a single page; additional information and sources used will be given as links so that any reader may then follow up on those figures which hold particular appeal for them.

It is only fitting, given the antecedence of this blog's creation, that our first candidate should be His Holiness Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda.

As to the 'nutshell' of his background, the introduction on the biography page of the CM site serves perfectly well;
His Early Journey – how it all began
On 8 May 1916, a child was born as so many other children were born. Born to ordinary parents – a lawyer father, a home maker mother, Balan went to school like all kids do; he would later acquire a degree in English Literature, plunge into the Freedom Movement of India against British rule, be imprisoned, fall frightfully ill, be thrown out of jail for that, be rescued by a strange lady, start writing for a newspaper, make fiery speeches and plan even more fiery exposes and then, all too suddenly abandon all that, for none of them explained to him the purpose of his birth.
Clearly, he was an unusual young man.

Up until the age of 33yrs, Bala Krishnan Menon led the life of any modern young man and was quite the rebel in many respects as well as a sceptic.  It was in his capacity of a journalist that he decided to 'expose' the 'swami caper'.  He believed as many did (and still do) that teachers of ancient authority were either total con men or just completely out of touch with the world.  The target of his article was to be Swami Sivananda, in Rishikesh.

How the tide turns!  This raging intellect which had been seeking a purpose found it up there in the Himalayan fold.  Swami Sivananda could match him but also saw when the time came to send the young seeker to an even greater master.

Gaining sanyaas (the ochre clothes), the new Swami moved into the care and guidance of Swami Tapovanam Maharaj.  Here Swami Chinmayananda underwent the most intense study and service of the guru, in extreme austerity. Swami Tapovanam became as father to him - and so  much more.  All true gurus are as God before us.

There came a time when the young swami had to leave. He had a vision which combined his earlier strong interest and activity with his newly found understanding of why the world was as it was and he determined that there was a way to help.

The vision was to bring a level of peace and happiness to the common man and to raise the standard of living in general, through education.

This was not popular.  It was considered, on the one hand, that the immense knowledge of the Upanishads and the deeper meanings of the Bhagavad Gita were well beyond the average intellect to grasp; on the other hand, that he was creating a scandal by teaching in English, meaning the whole world could learn.

Those who came and heard the discourses, however, were soon taken up with enthusiasm.  This swami knew how to reach into the hearts and minds of all levels of society and address the needs thereof. he developed different ways for his growing band of devotees to develop their Vedantic 'muscles'. The core method was the formation of study groups.  He also saw that there was a need for a Devi Group - aimed mainly at the mothers of the community; then there was Bala Vihar, schooling for the children; later came the CHYKs and Vana Prastha groups... Vidyalayas (schools) are now extensive throughout India, there is a hospital in Bangalore... The outreach is ever-expanding and you can learn more of it all on the various websites, the links of which you see in the right side bar.

Gurudev cut a swathe through all difficulties.  He saw no obstacles, only wood to be chopped, rocks to be broken. He asked nobody to do anything that he would not do himself. He admitted the difficulties to be faced but gave lucid and powerful arguments for continuing to surmount them.  We are blessed with a large amount of audio and visual teachings from Gurudev, so are still able to share in shravanam of the master, alongside the teachings of his qualified disciples. Anyone can follow him - provided they trust in his guidance; a guidance that he will tell you again and again is not his at all, but that which has been handed down from time unnameable, from guru to shishya.

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Hari OM
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