The Mother Divine
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By Swami Chetananda Saraswati
(President and Trustee Sri Sri Nigamananda Math and Ashram Foundations)
Early Life and Renunciation
Sometime during February-March, 1935 Sri Sri Thakur visited the Paschim Bangla Saraswat Ashram at Kharkusma located near Garbeta railway station in Midnapur district of West Bengal. By that time one of the inmates of that Ashram was Bholanath Ganguly aged about twenty-eight years engaged as a cook and Poojak (one who offers worship at the shrine) for the past four years. Sri Ganguly had hailed from the village Ladhurka in Purulia district of West Bengal, born (February, 27,1906) as the third son of late Lalmohan Ganguly, whose wife (Sharadasundari Devi) had passed away leaving Bholanath as a baby who was only two months old. The boy therefore was taken and brought up under the care of his uncle Gadadhar Mishra at Maheshpur. Bholanath could not be taught beyond the alphabets in his boyhood but he was very good at all sorts of work, viz., weaving clothes, agriculture, shop-keeping and related business. While once he was putting up physical labour for building a house for himself as a future resident and house-holder, he suddenly started wondering as to what the purpose of life was and the need for having a house and raising a family. When told that even ascetics and monks live, though without a family, in the Ashrams, he became curious to learn from them about the purpose of life. Along with a friend right away he came over to the aforesaid Ashram at Kharkusuma and joined there as an inmate so as to study the life and activities of the Ashramites on a trial basis. By and by, he learned about the life and mission of Sri Sri Thakur, the founder of the Ashram and was deeply impressed by his spiritual attainment and divine powers. Incidentally, during Sri Sri Thakur's visit to that Ashram he got the opportunity of fanning with a hand fan while standing by Sri Sri Thakur's bedside in order to put him to sleep, which was because at that place there was no electricity at that time. This was his first ever opportunity to watch Sri Sri Thakur's figure from close quarters. It was a situation of love at first sight. He thought to himself "could such radiance emit from a human body with the palms and feet displaying the hue of lotus flower?” Sri Sri Thakur's graceful and imposing stature, his gift of spiritual power and authority were unique and not comparable with any other saint he had seen or known before. Having magnetically been drawn towards him he thought "blessed indeed is the spiritual seeker who could surrender himself at the feet of such a great Master!”

Initiation as a Brahmachari
And lo, the next day Sri Sri Thakur himself called, nay, compelled the head of the Ashram to have Bholanath readied for getting initiated as a Brahmachari (the first stage in the life of a celibate aspirant who takes the vow to study while serving the Master). Bholanath was surprised at this news of having been chosen to get initiated by a great spiritual Master as he was feeling himself incompetent and diffident due to his lack of education and outlook. All the same, the all merciful Thakur initiated him only about eight months before finally leaving this world, converting him from Bholanath to Sri Bhola Chaitanya Brahmachari. Brahmachariji, therefore, could not get another chance to meet his revered Master alive but was guided by Swami Chidananda Maharaj who was the head of the Ashram at that time, and later on, by his own maternal aunt, who had developed some miraculous mystic divine powers following the death of her husband, Sri Gadadhar Mishra. Under very mysterious circumstances Brahmachariji had to publicly worship her as the divine mother and receive her blessings.

Spiritual Realisation and Yogic Practices
Later Sri Bhola Chaitanya Brahmachari having been instructed by a local mystic named Sri Nandakshepa moved into a cave where the great Rishyashringa Muni blessed him twice and helped him attain realisation of the universal self. He then continued to perform Yogic practices remaining inside the cave for several years and he continued to experience bliss due to Laya (dissolution) and Bhava (mystic divine love mode) Samadhi. Later on he attended the Kumbha Mela at Haridwaar during 1950 and walking for days together he visited the shrine of Badrinaath and beyond, up to the Vasudhara falls in the Himalayas. He then visited Brindavan, Puri and certain other places in Orissa.

Initiation into Samnyas
Finally, he was initiated into the Sannyas order at Sri Sri Nigamananda Math in Bhubaneswar in Orissa by the late Swami Prajnananda Saraswati who was earlier presiding as the honourable Mahanta and Trustee of the Assam Bangiya Saraswat Math. Brahmachari Bhola Chaitanya was renamed as Swami Visuddhananda Saraswati after entering into the Sannyas order during 1964 at the age of 58. He, in turn, initiated number of men and women, built his principal Ashram with the Gurubrahma's altar and temple (presently known as Sri Sri Nigamananda Math) at Jharboni, (P.O. - Amalagora) close by Garbeta railway station in district Midnapur (West Bengal) and branch Ashrams at Dasapalla and Bargaon in Orissa besides the one styled as Gurudham at Ladhurka in his own paternal homestead land site.

His Samnyasi Initiates
His first disciple to be initiated into the Sannyas order was late Ma Nandarani Mukherjee who became known by the name, Mata Anandamayee Saraswati. Mataji was a spiritually enlightened woman who served her Guru sincerely and loved the devotees and disciples so dearly that she was being treated as the divine Mother and worshipped together with the Guru. Among other Sannyasi- initiates, mention may be made of Sri Gurudas Brahmachari who was converted as Swami Birajananda Saraswati who is presently the presiding Trustee of Sri Sri Nigamananda Ashram at Chhotabarua in Midnapur town in West Bengal. After initiation into Sannyas the four other disciples presently residing in his Math and Ashrams are Swami Gambhirananda Saraaswati, Swami Shuddhananda Saraswati, Swami Chetanananda Saraswati and Mata Amritamayee Saraswati.
Having taught, preached and initiated in the same manner as his revered Gurudev, Sri Sri Thakur 
Maharaj over almost thirty years beginning with the sixties, Swamiji breathed his last on May 2, 1995.

Swami Vishuddhananda Maharaja's Teachings

The Role of a Living Master
Swami Vishuddhananda Saraswati Maharaj had assumed popularity as a spiritually powerful Sadguru among his disciples in West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. However, unlike many other Sannyasi disciples engaged in spreading Sri Sri Thakur's philosophy and message and initiating aspirants, Swamiji insisted that his disciples should treat him (the initiator) as the spiritual Master and not treat Sri Sri Thakur, as such, who was no more living and who had attained the Grand Master's status (Paramguru or God) like Sri Rama or Sri Krishna.

The role of a living Guru or a Master had been highlighted by many a saint and mystic in the Hindu as well as other circles. Soamiji Maharaj of Radhasoami Satsang asserted that without a contemporary Master one cannot practice devotion:

"The object of the devotee is not achieved
As long as he does not get a Guru of his time

All those have gone astray
who put their faith on the past Gurus
whom they have never seen with their eyes
but only have heard of their greatness
and read about them in books".

Sri Krishna also declares in the Bhagavadgeeta,

"Learn that (knowledge about God or ultimate reality) by humble reverence (and listening to their discourses), enquiry (and mental reflection and analysis) and by service (to the men of wisdom and then practicing meditation)". (IV - 34)

Evidently this suggests going and rendering service to a living Master and practicing according to his advice.

One may argue that because in earlier ages books were not available one was directed to meet living Masters and learn from them, but why today? Noteworthy are the observations of Swami Vivekananda in this context: "This insufficiency of the book to quicken spiritual growth is the reason why although every one of us can speak wonderfully on spiritual matters, when it comes to action and the living of a spiritual life we find ourselves so awfully deficient. To quicken this spirit the impulse must come from another living soul who is called the Guru."

Such were also the firm and declared views of Swami Vishuddhananda Saraswati Maharaj. Invoking such views of his Master Sri Sri Thakur Nigamananda Saraswati, mentioned in his book "Tantrikguru", that one should get initiated by a living Master even if one obtained a Mantra while in a dream state, he convinced Chakrapani Mishra (presently Swami Chetanananda Saraswati) and made him relent to surrender to a living Master.

Meditation Technique
An important method of meditation, which he emphasised and taught to his disciples, was Ajapa or rhythmic mental repetition of the Mantra (Word) or name of God. Several saints and Masters in the past have suggested mental repetition of God's name with breathing. The western orthodox Christian spiritual literature declared that one must learn to call upon His name more often than breathing at all times in all places in every kind of occupation. Ceaseless prayer is to remember God always, whether a man is conversing, sitting down, walking, making something, or eating:

Even a moment of separation is unbearable
when we talk it is oneness talking
which indeed has become all this, not so obvious
blissful is this realisation simultaneous!

(After Sharmad, the mystic)

"Who can be able," Swamiji Maharaj asked, "to utilise or even understand such message in practical life without the help of a living Guru in whom the disciple can repose faith?”

Swamiji taught the technique of Ajapa to such disciples who were fit enough to receive it and was insisting that they should practice it for twenty-four hours a day or as long as practicable. He had mastered the technique himself by practicing (for a long time while he was in the cave) regulation of the breath current by fixing undivided attention on it irrespective of outward engagements after he had once observed a woman dancing with a water pot placed on her head to various tunes and rhythms. Thus having achieved success he told his aspirants how to set attention on the Mantra linked to the breathing rhythm, even when they attended to their many concerns. "How otherwise" he asked "is it possible to visualise or practice the truth in tune with Sri Krishna's commands in the Bhagavadgeeta:

“At all times remember me and fight (VIII-7)”


“Therefore at all times, o Partha, be thou established in yoga (VIII-27)"

Other important teachings of Swami Vishuddhananda Saraswati

1)     For the disciple his initiator is the Guru. It is not proper to take once initiator’s Guru or so to say the grand Guru as one’s own Guru. Taking one’s Guru’s Guru especially the one who is no more living, as one’s own Guru offers the same benefit as that due to an impersonal God. In that case there remains little need for initiation by or affiliation to a living Guru in the first place (which however runs contrary to the prescription of time honoured scriptures!).

2)     One usually affiliates oneself mostly with the gross bodily form of the Guru but cannot visualize the indwelling God in Him. In the gross body of the Guru resides the divine essence (the Paramatman). As such Guru’s gross body needs also to be nurtured and protected.

3)     What have you gained so long by remaining bound to the world of craving and passion? Give up attachment to material benefits and enjoyment and then see if you can get peace or not!

4)     Self-surrender (to the Guru) is not easy enough. Merely expressing or thinking does not achieve it. One has to prove it in action. Have complete faith in the Guru and surrender. Then you will surely get peace.

5)     Nothing is achieved by only shouting ‘Peace, Peace’! One has to go deep into one’s heart and ponder over how it can be achieved and why one doesn’t get it.

6)     First realize through introspection that you are not the body but the indestructible Atman residing in it. In that spiritual light you identify the Paramatman as yourself present in all created beings. Then only violence and hatred will be gone and peace will prevail.

7)     Purification of mind may continue over a span of several births. However, through service rendered to the Guru, surrendering at His feet and following his instructions will expedite it. The Guru is like that extraordinary philosopher’s stone, whose touch converts an ordinary human to a Guru Himself unlike the ordinary one that converts iron into gold.

8)     Merely reciting God’s name or counting beads achieves nothing. If one can repeat the ‘mantra’ by the technique of ‘Ajapa japa’ then only one would receive the blessings of the Guru. ‘Ajapa japa’ is not supposed to be performed once or twice. One has to practice it day and night.

9)     Samgha or (the session of) a prayer group of disciples and devotees is indeed the Guru’s dwelling temple. Regular attendance in the Samgha will help expedite spiritual progress of the disciple.

10)  Unless one has the required ability one cannot easily know what ‘Guru shakti’ (the power of the Guru) is! Go ahead with faith – one day you will be able to attain to the ultimate truth (which is another name for God-head) and lasting peace.