Recapitulating-I had mentioned Mahavatar Babaji’s views on renunciation and teachings “Our whole life is nothing but our ‘prarabdh,’ destiny and we must live upto our ‘prarabdh’ with a sense of detachment and that is ‘sannayas’.
I had told you about the life and works of Sri Lahiri Mahasaya in the last post, who was typically a householder yet detached from within and was merely interested in service, meditation and dispersing wisdom. I hope you enjoyed reading it and appreciated my effort in doing some kind of service to my spiritual masters and humanity as well. And I thought to myself that explaining lofty ideas becomes much simpler if we see or come to know a few persons who are good examples and role models for us to follow. For this reason this post is an extension to the previous one.
However, the question that subsequently arises at this point is- if renunciation is just a sense of detachment and is possible while living your present life, which is nothing but your destiny, how should one live as a householder? How not be completely immersed in the transitory world and do bhakti or devotion and serve the appointed spiritual master? Is it possible? How? Are there any living examples and any footsteps to follow?
I know of one more saintly man or ‘Divya Purush’ to be precise, who falls in this category as a perfect example who played his role perfectly well by being a sannayasi yet was living right in the middle of hustle and bustle of a city life and was in a job and performed all his roles of an individual, employee, devotee and God’s servant, all rolled into an epitome of perfection as untainted and unparalleled was his whole life!!
Whatever little I have gathered over the past few years, I wish to share with you all on this blog. I have been profusely blessed in my personal as well as spiritual life by him, as I chanced upon Swami Dayananda Shaligram one fine day by meeting his living and initiated devotee on 27th April, 2002 by a quirk of fate. Although Shaligram Swami is no more, his good teachings and spiritual vibrations are still here. His absolute selfless service to humanity still goes on silently through divine, beatific vibrations from his samadhi in Ganeshpuri, about 70 kms away from Mumbai.
Brief life history
Very little is known about Swami Dayananda Shaligram’s birth and early childhood because it is lost in anonymity and it was also his earnest desire to live and remain in obscurity. But it is believed that he was born in a humble family of devout parents somewhere in an unknown, small village in Kerala state bordering with Karnataka in the year 1929 in the month of Bhadrapad, according to Hindu calendar, that is sometime in August. As a child he used to get vivid dreams of mountains and rivers and ashrams. He was quiet and reserved by nature and was sober and contemplative from the time of his birth.
He could foresee that his life was brief and he had to do ghor tapasya, intense penance during this period itself. He was very focused and one pointed in his pursuits and endeavours which ever he undertook. Much against the wishes of his parents, he once set out on a pilgrimage alone as a youth in search of a guru. He reached the banks of river Narmada where he took a holy dip in the sacred waters. It was there in meditation that he got a divine vision of Swami Nityananda and he heard his guru calling him. He immediately left for Ganeshpuri, pretty directionless but very firm in his resolution to meet his soul mate and beloved Master of many lives.
He somehow reached Ganeshpuri after an arduous journey and met his Guru. None of them spoke a word! In the divine presence of Swami Nityananda, he could immediately recall his past lives. He could also now recollect when he was in the astral world before he became Swami Dayanand Shaligram, how he had pleaded and prayed to Swami Nityananda to incarnate on the earth as his guru and he would become his humble devotee and servant for mitigating the woes and sufferings of millions of souls on the earth. Swami Nityananda had no desire to come down on the physical plane as He was in bliss in the astral world. But the humble and sweet request of a selfless soul compelled him to fulfill his wish. And subsequently one became the mighty Guru and master Swami Nityananda and the other became a humble devotee, Swami Shaligram. Therefore we must be grateful to Swami Shaligram as it was at his behest that Swami Nityananad came in this world for the welfare of countless people, just in the way we must be thankful to Lahiri Mahasaya for reviving Kriya Yoga in modern world to householders.
Swami Shaligram took refuge in Swami Nityananda’s feet and expressed his desire to serve him as well as work for him. Nityananda Baba asked him to continue working in his job and along with that do his tapasya, penance.
After a lapse of a few years, he did intense tapasya by keeping maun, silence for three years after which he began serving the people of Mahul, a sleepy hamlet of fishermen on the creeks of Bombay. He began living there after the people appealed to him. They also served him in their own ways as a token of service and gratitude. Though Shaligram Swami used to live in Mahul, he made very frequent visits to Ganeshpuri on weekends and other holidays to be with his divine guru for his affection and infallible wisdom. He showered his intense love and reverence for his guru and would always address him as ‘Dev,’ God and called himself a ‘bhakt’, a devotee.
They hardly spoke to each other as their mental communication was very well established, it was unbreakable and flawless. They would sit together in silence gazing in eternity!
Swami Nityanand guided him in his spiritual practices as well as in practical life too. He also asked him to serve the people in Mahul which he did happily. Although he had renounced his family in Kerala, Nityananda Baba gave him a much larger family to attend to the old, sick and poor people whom he restored back to life and health. The sick were healed by miracles and divine healings and many people’s unfulfilled desires were fulfilled as and when they approached him.
And then there were a few who loved Shaligram Swami for his extreme devotion and depthless knowledge. But they were just a few! They arrived not for mercy or miracles or material considerations but for salvation or mukti and bhakti, devotion. Swami Shaligram showed them their path of salvation according to their karmic patterns, capabilities and level of endurance. He would promise and assure the seekers that he will always hold their hand to give them much needed mental support to overcome the difficulties of everyday life as well as tough suffering of karmic bondage which they would have to overcome for salvation. He pledged and promised those true and devoted disciples that he will never forsake them until the destination and goal of attaining mukti and karmic bondage is not attained. Such was his assurance and commitment towards his disciples. He gave advice to commoners, learned, householders and all those who came for help to him. No wonder he was the most beloved of all the many disciples of Swami Nityananda and they both were inseparable, although they hardly spoke to each other. But their inner communication was enduring and unbreakable. Mahavatar Babaji calls Swami Shaligram Swami as my ‘laadla’ or very dear one because of his purity and flawless devotion towards his divine guru.
It holds true even now although he is living no more, that whosoever takes his refuge with a true and pure heart, he will never be disappointed. If we remember him with a pure heart, he responds to our needs without any delay. If we wish to clear our baggage of past lives and find it difficult to carry it out alone, he invisibly lends timely help and rescue. If one is destined to become his disciple due to one’s past karmas, then he will definitely become so.
Swami Shaligram loved his guru the most, more than anything in this world so much so that he could never even dream of being separated from his master. So when he discovered that Swami Nityanand is about to leave the world, he decided to take jeevant samadhi, a conscious exit from his body by some yogic powers by stopping his breath which he had mastered earlier. He relinquished his last breath on 27th April 1961 in Ganeshpuri by chanting Ram rakshastrotra mantra. His samadhi temple was built on that spot and he rests there very close to his master today. He came in this world to show us what should a perfect devotee be like, how should one live in the family as a householder performing his worldly duties and continue doing his sadhana.
He would chant this mantra for hours and reach an ecstatic state and deep peace in solitude. This post is dedicated in his loving memory as a symbol and epitome of endless love of a disciple towards his spiritual teacher. I consecrate and offer my heart and soul for such exceptional souls who visit earth so rarely yet leave their sweet fragrance for centuries to come. May we all be inspired by a true devotee, a bhakta, a yogi and a supremely beautiful soul. May our souls pay homage to such a celestial and virtuous incarnate.
His views on renunciation and his valuable teachings Our whole life is nothing but our destiny. Do not relinquish your duties. Live your life with a sense of detachment and not self-punishing involvement.
Do not run away from your life which is your destiny, fulfill your destiny as it is created by no one else but you. Living your destiny with detachment is renunciation and sadhana. Do all the spiritual practices or sadhana while staying at home. Do not reject your present life, instead awake, arise and enlighten yourself where ever you are placed.
He agrees that sometimes living your destiny is very tough and difficult but none the less it is possible to exhaust the karmas with faith and devotion. If we run away or relinquish our duties we will still have to face the same situations in some life ahead in the future lives yet to come and on the contrary we will only pile up the karmas, counted as accumulated or sanchit karmas.
Serve your parents Do not shy away from your duties of serving your parents, children and other elders.
Be fair in your relations at home, place of work and society. Respect and love your wife. Appreciate her contribution in building up the family, do not deprive her of money and other basic facilities. Be humble, kind and understanding to your servants and helpers.
Women must have high moral and spiritual standards because she is the backbone of the entire family and a builder of future generations. She should handle children with love, understanding, affection, intelligence and tenderness, yet be firm when it comes to inculcating good moral and spiritual foundation very early on in life.
Make your family a heaven and a paradise Give respect and love to all members equally.
The elders should not be on an ego trip but help the younger ones to bloom and flower into responsible and worthy citizens and individuals for posterity.
Even if people harass or inflict upon us, we must not retaliate or get tormented Those people who are unkind towards us will in due course of time bear the consequences for their wrong doings.
Be compassionate towards the ill, old and dying people Have mercy on the deprived and poor people and serve them food, clothes and give monetary help.
Serve your Guru by following his teachings. Serve the learned and men of wisdom and intelligence. Fulfill your religious duties.
Be just and fair in your dealing and handling of money Do not indulge and splurge money in evil and immoral ways. Save for your future and also donate generously.
Have mercy and compassion for animals and all other living creatures of God
Swami Dayananda Shaligram’s ashram is in Mahul where annually the birth anniversary of Swami Nityananda is celebrated by the locals even today. He used to celebrate his Guru’s birthday by feeding the masses and chanting ‘Shri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram’ for a week. Swami Nityananda is in bliss on this day and blesses all who come to take his ‘darshan’ on 30th Nov every year. Those who can visit Mahul ashram should go and take the blessings of both the divine souls on this auspicious day.
The devotees of Mahul and other places perform a pooja and bhandara every year on 27th April on the samadhi divas in memory and respect of Swami Dayanand Shaligram in Ganeshpuri.
To know more about Swami Nityananda of Ganeshpuri read