"Given the circumstances in the physical absence of Guru Maharaj the mandate of Swamiji given to me cannot be fulfilled. I tried my best in all these years but the existing governing body is not keen in doing it. Hence, I am stepping out of the ashram premises to fulfil the task which is the mission of my life on my own. Those of you who wish to help me in digitizing and keeping the images of Guru Maharaj alive are most welcome for all support.
That there should be no illusion about the fact that henceforth I have nothing to do with Divine Life Society." -Swami Yatidharmananda
If you would like to connect with him, please click here and leave a comment on his post announcing the same...
Now back to the interview...
A son of a business man as well as a popular Magician; Software professional, working in Hong Kong, who enjoyed Horse races and many times won small jack pots; Ambition to have large house, servants, large tract of land and nice cars…. Well that is all that it takes to make a Swami.
Well almost! Just add a burning desire to seek and serve one’s Guru – the spiritual master.
This is the unbelievable story of my long time friend, Swami Yatidharmanand of one of the most beautiful, revered and oldest ashram “Shivanand Ashram”, on the foot hills of mighty
Himalayas, on the banks of Holy River Ganges in the small beautiful spiritual town Rishikesh – the spiritual capital of the world as some believes it to be.
|Rishikesh and Holy River Ganges |
from Sivananda Ashram
I spent few days in the ashram, meeting the other yogi’s, meditating in the various prayer halls, attending chanting, rituals and prayers. Almost half of the attendees, in these sessions, I noticed from European and western countries. Those few days were the most blissful time of my own experience and spiritual learning process. I was very fortunate to stay in the Guru Niwas on the bank of holy River Ganges – the place where Guru Chidananda Swami Ji used to stay and pray. This, in itself, was quite enchanting and profound experience for me. Early morning, one wakes up to the tolling bells, sounds of mantra chants and scents of burning incense, already attuned to receive the energy and the spiritual vibrations.
|Myself at Guru Nivas at |
Sivananda Ashram 2004
So here is the story of a young boy, son of a spice merchant and a popular magician; story of a Software professional working in Hong Kong, about his journey from a materialistic world towards fulfilling his own destiny.
At the age of 10-11, playing among the other kids on the banks of river in a small town
, Orissa, young Yatidharmanand had lot of questions, most of which were left unanswered for a long time. Even though his father, a famous magician as well as a dedicated devotee of Guru Ji (Swami Chidananda Ji from Shivanand Ashram) were all there to provide the answers, he did not get them. Probably the time was not ready for him to be on this spiritual path. He had a happy childhood among brothers, sisters and friends as his father was a prosperous, well respected Spice merchant and a popular magician. Most of his time away from school was spent in company of his father and his Guru Ji, on his lecture tours. His father used to perform magical feats of materializing spiritual books from thin air, bring out garlands from magic hats etc, to attract and retain the simple village folks, to propagate Hindu religious philosophy with Swami Ji’s spiritual discourse. Over the period of many years, his father had set up a good business for the family, with an idea to leave it all behind to take care of his family when his time is to retire. His father had made up his mind long time back to join on the footsteps of his guru and renounce all to become a Sadhu at the right time. That day arrived too soon for young Yati. The business was not yet fully established and as his father left, it slowly died a natural death leaving Yati with his mother, sister and brothers to care of. Cuttack
After a protracted struggle, to survive in the poverty that followed, he one day decided to go to Rishikesh to confront Guru Ji and his father. The meeting with his father proved to be very impersonal as his father was well on his own spiritual journey. As his father rightfully believed that he had completed all his duties towards family, he was not interested in going back to take care of the family that he has had renounced long time back. So he gently guided his son to his Guru Ji to listen to him and seek advice.
Yati, next day, in his own young arrogance that comes from immaturity, asked Guru Ji, as he was sitting in the Samadhi hall with his set of devotees, what are use of such spirituality, service and God when one’s own family suffers due to one person’s personal bliss. Guru Ji softly told him that he does not have answer so why not ask Gurudev Swami Sivananda Ji and I am sure he will give all the answers. Being young and hot headed, Yati did not accept this answer as he was thinking, what stupidity is this, where is Swami Sivananda and how can I ask him a question as he had passed away even before I was born! Swami Yatidharmanand says that Guru Ji read his thoughts and told him very sternly and authoritatively “Look! Do not ever think that Swami Sivananda Ji is not here. He is very much present here.”
This was a big jolt to the young man as he could not believe that Guru Ji would know what he was thinking. Although Yati at that time knew that this is just a ruse to calm him, he did not dare to disobey Guru Ji and walked into the Samadhi Shrine of Gurudev Swami Sivananda Ji. There he repeated the same questions to him, skeptically. Swami Yatidharmanand told me about that incident in his life that what happened there at that time is something that he himself was not able to comprehend. He came out of the temple dazed, in trance yet relaxed. Although it felt like few minutes in the temple, he later realised that it was almost an hour there with Guru Swami Sivananda Ji.
He says, from then on, Guru Ji took charge of his life in his own hands. He sent him to
to do technical studies. So young Yati was packed off to Delhi , to get enrolled in NIIT, learning computers and studying software programming for many years. Delhi
Yati’s professional career started with NIIT and he moved on working as a software professional in various small companies and from there he migrated to
Hong Kong, to work for a International Garment house, as a Computer Programmer. As in retaliation to this forced studies and family life, Yati went all out to earn as much money as possible and as early as possible so that he can full fill his own commitments towards his family, that he had left behind in . Swami Yatidharmanand softly smiled when he recollected that he never had any other focus in his life but only to make money in order to get back to his old rich spoiled lifestyle. He remembers that as he used to go to his office in India Hong Kong, through 3 shopping malls, he always aspired to own things on the shop fronts and as he was not able to afford then at that time, he would bend his head down to avoid looking and then desiring them all. Now he says that the God is so great, Guru Ji is so loving that whatever I have desired at that time, I would get it some way by the grace of Guru Ji even at that time.
In 1995, miraculously the family money problem was solved. His brother found a job for himself and informed Young Yati that he need not worry about the family now as he himself can take care of the family.
|Swami Yatidharmanand with Guru Ji|
When I asked him about his spiritual practices, he simply says, “From the beginning, I never understood spirituality, but somehow I was always happy serving. I just wanted to serve”. And when he was asked, where is he now on his spiritual growth, He says, “I am still serving and will continue to serve as long as I can” He says, its very nice to get away from all this materialistic world and be alone within your thoughts and devotion, but then some one has to serve, so that the society is more frictionless and peaceful, may be that is where I am now, serving.
And what a great service he is doing, in his own small way, for almost a decade now. To save thousands and thousands of audio, video clips, manuscripts of the ashram, which are on the verge of getting destroyed, by working day and night alone in the studio, fighting against time to save all that he can…
ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya