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|| The Rising Glory of OM ||

|| The Story of the Boy who left his home and became Om||


Swamiji did not give discourses and there were no books for him or about him when I first came to the ashram in the early 1990s. Nothing was for sale; to buy photographs we had to go down the road to Shobha Arts where there were good pictures.


Swamiji was giving teachings every minute of the day, in conversation, in private with devotees and in public at darshan, even in apparently chance remarks, and most especially through stories. He talked about his tapasya time at Banathirtha and about wandering with his Guru Omkarananda, known as Rakhadi Baba from one pilgrimage place to another. When he harked back to the shallow cave and fresh, cold mountain springs at Banatirtha we could almost feel we were there with him. Although the setting and the action, so to speak, was always the same, there were new details and comments each time. If we thought we knew a story by heart and told it to others, as we often did, everyone who had heard Swamiji tell it, would have extra incidents or quotations to add. In this way, we were given the opportunity

to learn at any moment, insofar as we were able to understand at that moment. There was no

sense of repetition when Swamiji told stories; they were always fresh and we would notice new things or hear things that suddenly spoke specifically to us.


One day, in the late 90s Swamiji asked Shankarnarayan (Delhi) and myself to sit with him while he told three stories which we would write down as he was speaking. The stories were given in reverse chronological order, starting with The Divine Confluence, concerning Swamiji’s meeting with his Guru in the 1960s at Banathirtha, followed by The Rising Glory of Om, concerning Rakhadi Baba’s meeting with his Guru some years before that and, finally, an account of the life of Swamiji’s grandfather, a great saint and Trikalagni.


Each evening, after this thoroughly enjoyable experience, Shankarnarayan and I would go

over what we had both written and have stimulating arguments about very small points,

arguments that were quite unnecessary as the following day Swamiji would go over every word that we had written down. It seemed that he wanted these transcriptions to be something like the official record of those central events.


Second guessing Swamiji is a hopeless exercise: ‘oh he did this because of that’ and ‘when he said that he meant this’ and ‘he must have known that….’ and so on. We can never approach the scope, the depth and the height of his awareness or imagine his intention. Now and then he would give a direct and unequivocal directive and these books are the result of one of those times. We can be sure that Swamiji wanted the books to circulate in the exact form they are in now, without any changes, omissions or additions. With great happiness to be carrying out his wishes, we offer this new edition at his Feet.


- Mary Premila

 

Rakhadi Baba was born in Agaram village, Kalavai, near Kanchipuram. He was called Muniswamy and was one of an exceedingly poor family, with two brothers and three sisters. The boy attended no school due to poverty: he possessed neither shirt nor banian. By the age of six or seven he was working hard in the fields with a strong desire to earn and feed his parents. He could not tolerate their being hungry, with nothing to eat. When there was no work to be had he did not hesitate to stoop to theft, never for himself, always for his parents. When he was nine or ten he was stealing to feed the family of a friend as well. He was constantly and unmercifully beaten by his parents and other members of the family who sought to curb his wild ways. No one could control him and neither could he stand the treatment he was getting so when he was not yet twelve years old he vanished from his village.

There is no record of how the child, leaving his family, beaten, half-starved and with nothing on but a pair of drawers, reached Bangalore, nor of the events and obstacles on the way. Once in Bangalore he got a job as a cleaner in a hotel owned by a Tamil speaking Malayali. During the year he spent there the boy picked up Telugu and Malayalam. The following year he worked in Mysore as an assistant cook, and learned Kannada. He paid short visits to Kalavai from both Bangalore and Mysore; during the second of these visits the demise of his father took place quite unexpectedly. Thus, Baba was present to attend all the traditional funeral rites particular to the comunity.

​Swamiji reconstructs the calendar of these eventts and reckons that Baba was born in 1925. So he would have been thirteen or fourteen when he left home again and returned to Mysore. Even though he was not yet called Rakhadi Baba, he is referred to as Baba here. Baba next left Mysore for Sringeri where he met his first Guru. We do not know the name of the Brahmin Guru who was doing Tapas in Sringeri, we do know that he daily taught Baba the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads, in simple language. Baba stayed in Sringeri for six months working in a hotel and with the money he earned he used to serve his Guru. The Guru was so good he would wait for the simple ofing Baba brought every day, though he could have had any amount of fine food from other, prosperous, devotees.

Baba left Sringeri for Goa where he added Konkani to his growing store of languages. It was then back to Sringeri from where he entered deep into the forest. He started doing Japa and meditation with the Bhava his Guru had taught him whilst teaching him the Gita and Upanishads.


Consider:-

all Directions as Guru and the ears as Guru

all the Roopas as Guru, and the eyes as Guru,

the Sense objects and senses both as Brahman.


The Self is Brahman.

The Self, the five senses and the sense objects,

the whole Universe is Brahman.

He also used to do Pranava Japa and Japa of Panchakshari. While doing Pranava Japa, he would sometimes meditate on Self as ‘A’ - kara, senses as ‘U’ - kara and sense objects as ‘M’ - Kara and at other times on sense objects as ‘A’-kara, senses as 'U'- kara and Self as ‘M’ - kara.


Self -'A' kara

Senses -'U' kara

Sense objects -'M' kara



Sense objects -'A' kara

Sense -'U' kara

Self -'M' kara


Swamiji reconstructs for us the map of Baba’s wanings over the next seven or eight years. After a year in the forest spent in medtion, Baba was in Ujjain for a year then passed a year in Rishikesh and another at Sri Jwalamukhi in Kangra. He stayed three years in Kulu Valley after that, by which time he was in his early twenties having spent almost twelve years in wandering and in Tapas. He came down from the Himalayas and stayed in the Girnar forest for a final year before his momentous meeting with his Guru, Bhagavan Nityananda. Girnar, in the region sacred to Lord Dattatreya was where Baba heard about Bhagvan Nityananda and experienced strong Bhavana that he must meet and speak to Bhagavan Nityananda. It was crucial to him that Bhagavan Nityananda should talk with him.He left Girnar and came to Vajreswari, near to Ganeshpuri and the Ashram of Bhagavan Nityananda. He was there for three days at the Samadhi of Dogari Baba, living on bhiksha and asking the Mother at Vajreswari to bless him that Bhagavan Nityananda should speak to him. At the first darshan there was a big crowd so Baba waited for it to disperse and was about to approach for darshan when another huge crowd formed.


Bhagwan Sri Nityananda


This time he was picked out separately by Bhagavan Nityananda who said in Hindi “Who are you? For what have you come here?”.

“I am the object”. Baba answered. “I have come here to dissolve in the Ocean”.

Swamiji(Sri Sri Sri Poornananda Swamy), while giving a word-by-word account of this conversation, explains further, speaking just as though Swamiji were His Guru talking with His Guru, saying “You are the Ocean of Brahman - I have come to dissolve in you. I don’t know any subject. I am an object. You are the Subject”.



At the same time Swamiji remarks that never, in the actual conversation did Baba refer to Bhagavan Nityananda directly.



Swamiji takes up the original conversation again


Bhagavan Nityananda : Who are you? What have you come here for?

Rakhadi Baba : I am the object. I have come here to dissolve in the Ocean.

Bhagavan Nityananda : What is your opinion of ‘I’?

Rakhadi Baba : The hardened and thickened Ahamkara is ‘I’.

Bhagavan Nityananda : Who is the Ocean?

Rakhadi Baba : The Guru is the Ocean.

Bhagavan Nityananda : Is the Guru Akara or Nirakara?

Rakhadi Baba : The Guru is with Akara.

Bhagavan Nityananda : Then what is Nirakara?

Rakhadi Baba : Nirakara is Brahman.

Bhagavan Nityananda : Then what is Akara?

Rakhadi Baba : Akara is the world, but the Akara of Nirakara is Guru.

Here Swamiji give a further explanation:

“The Guru alone can show the Almighty. The Proxmate Almighty is Guru".​​

The conversation between Bhagawan Nityananda and Rakhadi Baba went on:

Bhagavan Nityananda : Have you then found your Guru?

Rakhadi Baba : Having heard of the Akara that has come down as Guru,

I have come all the away from Girnar forest and I find Karuna

talking to me. I am fortunate.

Baba made as if to leave but Bhagavan Nityananda stopped him, saying:

Bhagavan Nityananda : Where are you going?

Rakhadi Baba : To any mandapa or under any tree.

Bhagavan Nityananda : If it is raining?

Rakhadi Baba : Any hut, any shelter.

Bhagavan Nityananda : Do you know any arts?

Rakhadi Baba : I know two. One is fighting. One is cooking.



Swamiji adds, “I will fight to eat or eat to fight”.

​Still laughing, he speaks of a gleam that flickered in the eye of Bhagavan Nityananda when he heard Baba tell him of these skills.

Bhagavan Nityananda: We are in need of a cook. A hotel has been opened, just three months ago. There is no one here to feed the devotees.So join the hotel as a cook and serve your Guru.

Swamiji says, “When Baba heard the words ‘Your Guru’ he was filled with joy because he had been accepted and blessed by Bhagavan Nityananda”.


Baba made a practice of going to have Bhagavan Nityananda’s darshan everyevening. He would come from cooking, take his bath and go for darshan, always quite unobtrusive amongst those around Bhagavan and exchanging no more than a very few words with him. Bhagavan Nityananda would often give Baba packets of sweets and other delicacies and sometimes a plate. Every week ars of devotion. He wanted to guard the inner silence zealously but the hotel would often be crowded and full of din, so he sought a separate place.

Ganeshpuri, the hotel and the Ashram of Bhagavan Nityananda were all on the more built-up side of the river Tansa where the road brought a constant stream of pilgrims to the feet of Bhagavan Nityananda. Baba crossed the river and came to a very big mango tree a few yards from the far bank. Under that tree he made his Kutir, a small hut, and started spending the nights there.

Sri Rakhadi Baba


Baba made a practice of going to have Bhagavan Nityananda’s darshan every evening. He would come from cooking, take his bath and go for darshan, always quite unobtrusive amongst those around Bhagavan and exchanging no more than a very few words with him. Bhagavan Nityananda would often give Baba packets of sweets and other delicacies and sometimes a plate. Every week

or ten days Baba would get plates and cups from Bhagavan Nityananda.


One early morning when Baba had just taken his bath and was about to set out for the hotel, suddenly Bhagavan Nityananda was there. He had crossed the river and was now walking towards Baba.





Bhagavan Nityananda : You are here!

Rakhadi Baba : No (A questioning look, appears in the eye of Bhagavan Nityananda) I am everywhere.

Bhagavan Nityananda : How?

Rakhadi Baba : I am in my Guru Who is everywhere

Swamiji indicates the Bhava, “Baba was saying that he too was thus everywhere”.

The conversation continued.

Bhagavan Nityananda : Where are you hastening to go?

Rakhadi Baba : To the place of my Tapas.

Bhagavan Nityananda : Oh! Which place is that?

Rakhadi Baba : That is the shrine where I am asked to be.


Bhagavan Nityananda : To worship any deity?

Rakhadi Baba : No, to feed my Guru. (Pauses a moment)... who is coming in multifarious forms.

Bhagavan Nityananda : Then will this talk be a hindrance to your Tapas?

Rakhadi Baba : No, it’s a nectar, which gives a boost for serving the devtees of my Guru.


Here Bhagavan Nityananda abruptly walked away.

​Baba spent three years in this way. Till evening he was cooking in the hotel, feeding the devotees and pilgrims and then going regularly for darshan, after which he would remain in meditation.

Half way through this three year period Bhagavan Nityananda selected a place for him; it was quite close to the mango tree on the far side of the river, far from the crowds and the hustle and bustle. There are three hot springs on this bank, called Agni Kunda, Surya Kunda and Soma Kunda. Of these Agni Kunda is the hottest. It is scalding and cannot be touched even by the finger tips. Over time these Kundas with their health giving waters had been need and covered in rocks and rubble. With his own hands Bhagvan Nityananda cleared away all this debris and built three Kundas so that to this day people may bathe in the medicinal waters. This done, Bhagavan Nityananda constucted a small building out of stone. It had a tiled roof, two small rooms and a verandah. The ground was uneven here so the verandah was lower by two feet and there was a pair of steps leading down to the house. When Baba came there to stay he made the Home Kunda in this sheltered hollow in front of the house. His nights were spent here until the time came for him to stop working at the hotel. He then spent all his time in this Kutir that his Guru had built for him.

​Bhagavan Nityananda cleared the jungle around and consecrated a Siva Lingam in a small mandapa for Baba. He gave Baba eleven acres of land for the maintenance of this Ashram and temple. Baba called a local man and made the land over to him. He was to farm it and provide Baba with bhiksha. Regularly, on Mondays, Baba would go to fetch the bhiksha from this farmer.

It was the night of Kartika Pournami. Bhagavan walked out of his Ashram without telling anyone where he was going. Moving with the long stride his devotees called ‘swift-as-wing’ he crossed the river by the boulders. It was midnight and at that moment Baba was sitting in meditation before the Homa kunda. Suddenly, his Guru appeared there. Bhagavan Nityananda took Baba straight to Agni Kunda and without a word threw him into the scalding water. Bhagavan Nityananda then chanted in his ears: OM, and said, “Now the Omkara is invoked in you and you are named Omkarananda”

This done, Bhagavan Nityananda instantly started walking away. Baba was on the point of following him when Bhagavan Nityananda said, “Follow my path but don’t follow me.”

​This, the Kartika Pournami, the day of Poorna, Fullness, was the day of Baba’s initiation when he was named by his Guru: Omkarananda.


In this way, an ordinary boy who left home at a very young age, transformed as Omkarananda and showered his affection on us with Poornanandam.


|| Rudra roopaaya vidhmahe, bhakta vaathsalyaaya dheemahe

thanno tyaagi prachodayaath ||

 




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