Swami Shrikarananda had talked to us about Dharm, Knowledge, Sadhna Moksha and much more in our last edition, he continues to share with us the glory of Gurudev, his mission and a lot more. Excerpts from the interview:
Swami Ji, please enlighten the Sydney community of the glory of Gurudev.
To explain the glory of Gururdev is like showing you sugar and asking what sweetness is. We cannot explain, who he is but his works show some of his glories.
Swami Chidanand Ji says that–what Swami Chinmayanand Ji has done is equal to ten rishis work. Bhagwan Ved Vyasa is a rishi, who’s done so much of works — 18 Puaranas, Bhagwad Gita, Mahabharat, Brahm Sutras and so many other works are attributed to that one Ved Vyas. And if there are 10 Ved Vyasa, the magnitude of what he’s done, you and I will never know. Such is the glory of Gurudev.
Gurudev took the Upanishads in English inspite of so much opposition. He wanted the scriptures to be studied and given to everyone. Not discriminating between only Hindu and many others. We teach everybody from Hindus, Muslims, to Christians. Swami Vinayamadand, Amratananada were all Christians.
The whole idea is that knowledge is to understand ourself. That is Vedic knowledge, Upanishads, Vedanta is to help us beyond gender, caste and culture. We are not interested in you converting but you discovering. So when Gurudev was interviewed many years ago in a University , and he was asked if he wanted to convert the students, he said, “ No, we have plenty back home. I want Hindus, Christians, Muslims to become better Hindus, better Christians and better Muslims.” He wanted each one of you to rediscover yourself, to be able to study the scriptures so that even if you study the Quran with the Vedantic knowledge you will understand what it is being told. So he’s done tremendous works.
Swami Ji’s film ‘On a Quest’ is going to release and its going to be dubbed in different languages. There will be glimpses of it but to know Gurudev you have to study his commentary. I have read all versions of Bhagwad Gita but I find Gurudev hits straight..with underlines this is what it is as Gurudev wanted to say that the truth is the truth, the raw truth..humorously he would say, but the point is the point, and that was his beauty.
I am indebted to him, I may not have seen him but I have seen him many a times in my heart.
As you know there are other spiritual organisations in Sydney. Is there a difference between them and Chinmaya Mission? Can people attend activities of other organisations too?
Every organization has a particular focus. I am not in a position to speak about other organization as I don’t know. And what I know is limited to what I have seen. But we can talk about our organization. We provide knowledge to people of all age groups. And our teaching is structured in accordance to our goal.
We teach everyone without discrimination of any kind. Knowledge of different Scriptures, whether it is Puranas, Upanishads, etc. is imparted to one and all. And each one of us takes pride in that, Guru gives me knowledge and my Guru allows me to ask questions. So many of our class study in groups; lecture classes are few but discussion classes are many so that the teacher and student can ask questions. And I found that very positive and useful in my spiritual journey as a youth.
Swami Ji would come and we would put questions to him and the proximity to come close to him and ask questions. And he would never take insult if somebody told him, “Hey what are you talking about”. Because he knows that everyone is a seeker. So our tradition is that–student and teacher should be able to ask questions and discuss. And that I can say that is there.
Whatever we teach we have to ensure that the students know what they are doing. So the questioning and answering is serious. In our study you won’t find 100s of people sitting there. We may have just 6-7 people sitting in the class, why? Because, it is for serious students. There are classes for beginners; there are classes for serious students. All students should take their studies seriously so there’s Sadhna, reading, wherein they prepare questions, and then ask those questions when they come to class. They have to practice what they learn so we encourage this. As you are here for a reason. Like you go to a doctor, he gives a prescription and encourages and inspires you to take the medicine. Or give you a simpler medicine to cure. We are like that only. This is our specialty. We allow your ideas and the others to discuss and Guru never says that my idea is a way to go. The purpose is that each student must enquire for themselves. They must become independent. You must start thinking yourself through various things which will help you become independent. And the onus is on you. It’s about bringing those together who really want to learn. Nobody is higher or lower. So we have classes for everyone even a person who has no idea about a subject will understand. And you all are welcome to come and start learning.
What is the mission in two or three or four years?
I have to ask that to my Guru because I work according to what my Guru says. Being a Shishya you must follow what the Guru wants you to do. Personally, I believe it is spreading love and affection for all.
I believe giving love to the world; share this love with others in your spare time. Share it with the ones who do not have because such opportunities come very rarely to us. Do it with cheer, spend time for the society and the world and somebody else. Give love to the ones who needs it.
(Interviewed by Rajesh Sharma and transcription by Nidhi Kumari from Indus Age. Special credit to Jagadish Sury).