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Saturday, December 5, 2009

As a young man the great Guru Nityananda, a name meaning “always in bliss” was acknowledged by those with whom he came into contact as a great spiritual being, whose presence evoked awe from those around him. It was reputed that many miracles happened in the presence of Nityananda. He is considered one of the most beloved saints of India and a true “avadhut,” one who has risen above ordinary consciousness and duality.

Before the age of twenty, Nityananda became a wandering yogi, spending time on yogic studies and practices in the Himalayas and other places. During his many travels and sojourns, Nityananda was to have a fleeting encounter with a boy who eventually became his disciple.  This boy was Swami Muktananda who wrote a book about his guru:  Bhagawan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri.

Nityananda spoke rarely, mostly in simple sentences directing people to “eat,’ “go here,” or “do this.” If it were not for the collection of Nityananda’s utterances on scraps of paper that a female devotee named Tulsi Amma eventually collected, we would not have the Chidakash Gita, Sky of the Heart, upon which to rely. 

Nityananda’s wisdom was conveyed by transmission of Shakti rather than upon reliance of wisdom through words or thoughts. From 1922-1924, when visiting his disciple’s homes, Nityananda began to speak from an exalted state of consciousness, uttering the famous verses to be eventually included in the Chidakash Gita. His devotees began to collect them on scraps of paper. Nityananda would begin these utterances by saying “Uncle Arjuna, come and listen, Grandfather Krishna is going to speak.”

The meaning of the Chidakash Gita is “song of the Chidakash,” meaning wisdom emanating from Supreme Consciousness. Described as pure meditation in verbal form, when one reads the words of Nityananda, one is immediately transported to entering that same space of consciousness from which the great guru Nityananda speaks. Typical of Nityananda he did not care whether or not these words were published. However, Tulsi Amma saw to it that the collection was indeed published, and the first English version was published as the Chidakash Gita in 1940.

The teachings of Nityananda were always very simple and practical. In the Chidakash Gita, Nityananda outlines what is necessary to achieve final liberation and always mentions the necessity of a guru or spiritual preceptor. Nityananda does not lose his reader with a long and arduous philosophical tract of words that are difficult to understand. Nityananda simply states that God is in humankind and humankind is in God, and there is no difference between the two. All are reflected in the same mirror that is the Heart Space or the Chidakash.

Nityananda further states within the Chidakash Gita, that liberation cannot be attained until Kundalini Shakti is fully awakened by a Siddha Guru and that the goal of a human birth is to achieve liberation. Nityananda further exhorts his devotees that the time to attain liberation is now through sadhana. Sadhana for Nityananda is the willingness to turn away from worldliness and the willingness to destroy attachment to sense pleasures. Finally, Nityananda always emphasized the primary value of direct spiritual experience over mere theory.

It is interesting to note that all aspiring yogis have heard words similar to these, but when one reads the Chidakash Gita, in its simply stated and resonant words, one realizes deeply within one’s heart that these are true words spoken by a great Guru.

Rare pictures of Nityananda are seen in Nityananda In Divine Presence as well as available at Ma’s India.

Hail to the Great Guru Nityananda!

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Finding a spiritual teacher is truly a momentous undertaking. The only thing more difficult than finding a spiritual teacher is finding your own guru because of the little known adage that there are many teachers, but only one guru.

A spiritual teacher can be anybody who gives you some object lesson in your life. For instance, we can learn humility from most anyone who points out something we have done to hurt somebody or create some other kind of harm. If one takes that lesson to heart, and learns by it, then that person who is kind enough to point this out has become our spiritual teacher.

As we go through life, there occur many instances when we are asked to surrender a piece of ourselves in humility either to somebody or some event. A common one is when a mother surrenders to her child’s needs. For example, if the mother has to go some place but the child is asking at that time to be fed, the mother will surrender in that instance and feed her child. Another example is if somebody in your life or family becomes very ill; in that case, out of love or respect for that person, you might be required to change your life in some large way. If that relative or friend needs to visit another city for treatment, you might even have to change your schedule to accommodate them, and otherwise modify your life so as to provide a comfortable space for this person. Suddenly, this person has become the loci of your life and your first wish is to serve them, rather than yourself. That event is a spiritual teacher.

Sometimes we are asked to change our behavior to service someone else’s ego needs or desires that severely compromises what we consider to be our integrity or our character. That is not known as righteous surrender when someone asks you to compromise your sense of integrity or morality. That kind of surrender withers and diminishes us. A true spiritual teacher is one who is desirous of leading you to your true self and with whom you feel enhanced and expanded. In that case, one must ask, is my service to this spiritual teacher one that will lead to greater service to my soul and establish a connection that I seek to my spirit or God.

Other questions in seeking a spiritual teacher are: How do I feel in the presence of this spiritual teacher? Do I feel an expansion of love in my heart? Do I feel connected with others by virtue of my connection to this spiritual teacher? Am I growing inside myself? Is this spiritual teacher following her own teachings? Most importantly, do I surrender my own ego to this spiritual teacher from love or from fear? If it the former, I would suggest that this seems to be a good criteria for following a spiritual teacher.

There are wonderful spiritual teachers in every path whom have proven themselves to their devotees in terms of their loving nature, wise counsel and disciplined lives. Some of the writings of these wise spiritual teachers can be found in the library of Ma’s India. The Dalai Lama’s Little Book of Inner Peace offers his wisdom in interpreting the Buddha’s teachings. The Inner Journey, Views from the Hindu Tradition, is compiled from the Parabola Anthology Series complete with interviews, vignettes, and essays of famous spiritual teachers ranging from Sri Aurobindo to contemporary wisdom teacher Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati.Finally, if one were intent on finding a spiritual teacher, one need not look any further than the writings of Neem Karoli Baba, Swami Nityananda, Ramana Maharshi, and Sri Ramakrishna to see the ultimate example of spiritual teachers. These men/gurus have proven themselves to be great spiritual teachers as seen by the love, devotion and respect of their devotees.

May you be blessed with wisdom in your search for a spiritual teacher!

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Even in childhood, Bhagawan Nityananda was heralded as being in an an unusually advanced spiritual state, Eventually given the name Nityananda meaning “always in bliss,” he migrated to Southern India. While there, Nityananda gained a reputation for effecting miracles and cures. As guru, however, Nityananda spoke very little, sitting with his devotees most of the time in silence.When he spoke however,as is recorded back to the early 1920’s, his devotees assiduously wrote down his rare words. Settling in southern India, Nityananda gained a reputation for effecting miracles and wonderful cures.In 1936, Nityananda went to the Shiva temple in the village of Ganeshpuri and asked if he could stay there. The family that looked after the temple built a hut for him. As visitors and followers increased, the hut became an ashram. To the people around Nityananda, he was called an “avadhut,” one who is absorbed in the transcendental state.


The Sky of the Heart one is introduced to the profound simplicity and wisdom of Bhagawan Nityananda contained in the rare verses transcribed by his devotees during the 1920’s. “With the mind, you want everything. With no mind, you want nothing. With mind, you see ”God” as separate; when mind merges with higher mind, no separate god is needed.” Because Nityananda spoke rarely, this is a rare collection of inspirational verses to enlighten the soul of the devotee. In Divine Presence is an uplifting, inspiring and moving chronicle of Bhagawan Nityananda’s life by his devotees from the time of his birth to his taking of mahasamadhi in 1961.Here we see the story of this selfless saint, the many miracles that unfolded around him, his extreme benevolence to those who came to him and his candor of his sadness for those who came to him merely for material worth rather than spiritual sustenance. Included are previously unpublished photographs of Nityananda through his life. In Divine Presence is an easily read book of the great saint known as Nityananda. In this wonderful recount of a devotee’s reverence for his master. Swami Muktananda in Bhagawan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri recounts his life as disciple and successor to Bhagawan Nityananda. With great clarity, love and understanding, he describes what it is to know a “siddha,” a great soul beyond duality, established in a state of supreme freedom. Swami Muktananda speaks of his years as a student of Bhagawan Nityananda and with great poignancy of his final moments with Bhagawan at his death and how Bhagawan Nityananda on that day imparted to Muktananda his final initiation as a siddha. He brings great understanding and clarity to the extraordinary teachings of Bhagawan Nityananda.

Ma’s India carries a wide range of rare Photos of Swami Nityananda from his years as a young sadhu to his advanced years as an avadhut. Some might merely see a simply clad master imparting his teachings to those who sought them. Others realize that to even see a picture of this radiant and selfless siddha is to receive his darshan.

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