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Faces of India
Swami Nityananda

Rajiv Butalia culls together information about a well-known Master, Swami Nityananda.

Swami Nityananda was born around 1890.There is very little information about his birth. It is said that as an infant he was found in the Guruvan jungle by a woman who sold the baby to a childless lady who worked in the house of a solicitor, Ishwar Iyer at Calicut. The child was named Ram by his adoptive mother and was brought up by the solicitor upon her death, when Ram was 6 years old. Mr. Iyer was amazed at the understanding of metaphysical concepts that the young lad displayed.

When Nityananda was 10, he travelled with Mr. Iyer to the holy city of Benares (now Varanasi). Here he informed Mr. Iyer that the time had come for him to leave the household. Before going he blessed his guardian with a divine vision and promised that he would return. Ram then travelled alone for 6 years in the North, including extensive travels in the Himalayas.

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Swami Nityananda At the age of 16, Ram returned to the home of his guardian thus fulfilling the promise he had made. After his return he took Mr. Iyer for a visit to the Ananteshwar Temple in Udipi. There he remarked that he had been present at the construction of the temple 400 years ago. Later, Mr. Iyer became gravely ill and was said to have been granted a divine vision by Ram and kept repeating the phrase "Nityananda! Nityananda!" (Endless bliss). Thereafter, Ram came to be known as Nityananda.

Nityananda, spent time at Guruvan, the same jungle where he was found as an infant. In 1920 he was staying with a family of devotees at Mangalore and his fame as a realised soul began to spread. A number of devotees would gather there and some of them took notes of his early sayings. It is said that with the money given by his devotees he would order food for the poor. No matter how many people turned up for the meal, the food would never run out.

In the mid 1930's he settled in Ganeshpuri, a small village near Mumbai surrounded by a jungle. A number of devotees would visit him at this remote spot. Soon the area was cleared and an ashram was built. It is reported that Nityananda was always in a state of cosmic consciousness and never referred to himself as "I" but as "this one" or "from here".

Swami Nityananda Swami Chetanananda, relates a story about a visit he made to the Ganeshpuri Ashram in a taxi. The taxi driver told him that, many years earlier, hearing that a great saint lives at Ganeshpuri, he had gone there to seek blessings. There was a long line of people filing past the saint who would either speak a few words, or simply nod. When he reached Nityananda he was surprised to hear the saint say, "Go and bring your brother here." His brother had been blind since birth and the next week, he returned to the Ashram and was asked by Nityananda to leave the brother there for 3 days. On the third day the brother's sight was restored.

One evening on 7th August of 1961, when Nityananda was alone with a devotee he mentioned that he would be leaving his body the next day. The devotee was in tears and asked him to change his mind and postpone his Mahasamadhi. Nityananda replied:
"It is possible only if a few devotees come forward and make a request; not any devotees but those imbued with desireless devotion, bhava (feeling) and prema (love).... Even one such is enough and the samadhi will be cancelled. When such a devotee is present, even God cannot take leave without his permission, or be able to disengage himself from the bond of his pure love."

However there were no devotees so advanced as to be totally without desire. The next day at noon he took a few deep breaths and left his earthly body and went into Mahasamadhi.

Nityananda's message has not been tarnished by dogmas. Best known among Swami Nityananda's disciples was Swami Muktanada, who later handed the mantle of the spiritual Siddha Yoga lineage to Swami Chidvilasananda.

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.