SWAMI - THE SAINT OF GNANACHERI
Today a great soul passed away. SWAMI who had been a beacon of hope and succor to multitudes is no more; in the process leaving a huge void in the lives of all those who had enshrined him in their hearts. He was one of those persons who had a profound impact on a skeptic like I am. Not because he had worked miracles for me and made every wish come true but because of his immense compassion which embraced everyone who came to him whether he was a theist, an atheist or an agnostic. One could never leave his presence without feeling touched by the unbounded love that seemed to emanate from his eyes.
I have heard it said that great souls suffer in their physical bodies as they take on the miseries of all those who come to them seeking deliverance. We need not look too far down the years for such instances. Those that come to my mind immediately are Ramana Maharishi and Ramakrishna Parmahamsa both of whom suffered physically before shedding their physical bodies. So was it with Swami. Having merged with the Absolute, like them, Swami will continue to shower his blessings and guidance on all those who come to him.
In Section 29 of Chapter 1 in my book ‘I am just An Ordinary Man’ I have written about the profound impact that Swami had on me. I am reproducing excerpts from that section of the book for those who have not read it -
‘Swami literally means an ascetic or a holy man but Swami has been God to all his followers for he had brought hope into the lives of hundreds of them. A few of them have been with him from his earliest days and for whom he is more a friend than a God. Yes, a God that is what he is to those gathered around him. There is no splendor, pomp or exhibition of partiality, for all present are equal. Swami is said to have performed miracles in his earlier days which are vouched for by those close to him. For the others hope in him has given them the will to survive and to prosper. I have seen this happening. People I knew have moved up in the scale of life not only in their material status but also in the way they looked at the world. A semblance of peace and discipline has happened in their lives. This I consider a miracle though I am not a great believer in miracles. Like I have said earlier, I believe miracles happen only if they are destined to happen.
I sat there among the crowd of devotees and listened to those few who came up to the podium to relate their experiences of Swami and how much he had meant to them and helped them overcome the difficulties they had faced in the course of their lives. It was only because of him that a transformation had occurred within them and had taken them to a higher plane of awareness. All the while Swami sat in his chair with that benign look on his face and it seemed that his gaze was directed at each and everyone in the crowd. One could feel the fervor with which each person spoke; an indication of the total faith reposed in him by them. As for me I was there neither as a believer nor a non-believer. I was there because I liked Swami.
I first came into contact with Swami thirty six years ago in 1977 at the time of my marriage. I remember that a day before the marriage I was down with high fever. In a lighter vein you could call it marital jitters but a definite cause for concern. My father-in-law came to see me. He had brought with him some vibhuti (holy ash) given to him by Swami, applied it on my forehead and left saying that everything would be fine. By evening my fever had subsided. At that time I did not give much importance to it and thought that it was due to the medicines I was taking. Only later, as the years passed by I started understanding the significance of the event. We can always pass of such incidents as something coincidental, but for a man of faith this was a miracle. And now when I think of it, I ask myself why not.
Swami was there at the wedding. In the wedding reception photograph he can be seen standing along with us, a simple man in a white cotton dhoti and a white shirt. The years may have passed but he is still the same simple person only thirty six years older now and in the process having become a beacon of hope to multitudes.
It is not that I accepted Swami as the divine person that I was introduced to; it took me years to realize the genuine human being full of love and compassion that he is and worthy of the highest reverence possible. The softness of his features and the everlasting soothing smile on his face was something that attracted me to him and made me bow my head in reverence to a great soul.
I have never seen or heard of people coming out of his chamber disappointed. One could see the sense of relief on their faces, having unburdened their miseries to him and with the renewed hope that he will take care of them. He listens to them patiently and tells them that he is there. Sometimes his voice is so soft that you really cannot hear him, but the look in his eyes and his smile are enough assurance that you have been heard. I have had experiences when I have gone inside his room with my wife to pour out our problems with the hope that a miracle would happen. At such times I have found myself choked with no words coming out of my mouth but tears streaming out of my eyes. Though I would end up asking for his blessings to lift me to a higher state of awareness, my wife would narrate our problems. We would come away with the assurance that he is always with us and will take care. But the miracles never happened. It never has happened the way or in the time frame we wanted. But over course of time some things have got sorted out and others we believe will also go that way; after all time is a great healer and destiny has to play its part. Though he knows that this is the truth, Swami discharges his karmic duties as a teacher and a healer of minds.’
I have not seen him as a miracle worker but as an extraordinary being I have learnt to like and respect. His erudition and rendering of the scriptures and the teachings of the great saints is astounding. His discourses are simple and the language reaches the common people who form the bulk of his followers.”
Swami, I believe was here to take us to a higher state of awareness and not to perform miracles but to lead us towards truth and the acceptance of destiny with fortitude.
Tonight as I sit here writing all this I do feel that deep sense of loss of a dear one, but I know that this will in course of time turn into acceptance and though his physical presence will be missed he will continue to shower his benevolence from above on all those he has left behind.