Swami Satyananda Saraswati
Humanism is the oneness and the uniqueness of pure consciousness that underlies the world: both animate and inanimate. To recognize and realize this truth is to harmoniously co-exist with fellow men, other living beings, Mother Earth, and the Universe. Religious and secular dogmas, that impede the free unfolding of human nature into Humanism and Universalism, must be and shall be discarded into the dustbin of history. The artificial barriers like East-West, North-South, etc., conceived and perpetrated by the petty ego of man will disintegrate when the mankind discovers its true nature.
Jagadguru Swami Satyananda Saraswati, also known as “Chenkottukonam Swami”, was the beloved disciple of the Swayambhu Sanyasin Param Pujya Brahmasree Neelakanta Gurupadar and the founder of Sree Rama Dasa Mission (SRDM) – a Charitable Organization aimed at serving the society in the fields of education, training, and psycho-spiritual healing for more than five decades.
Swamiji was born “Sekharan” at Andoorkonam in the District of Thiruvananthapuram in Keralam on 25 September 1933. During boyhood, Sekharan worshipped at Panimoola Devi Temple where he had celestial vision of Lord Krishna. While working in a private school as teacher, he experienced a mental impulse and finally decided to leave for Rishikesh in 1962. Before his departure, his Guru, Brahmasree Neelakanta Gurupadar, summoned and convinced him that the God resides in one’s own consciousness. Gurupadar had already moved into the 14 cents of land belonging to the Ashram undertaking intense, incessant, and immense penance for 45 years without stepping out. However, Gurupadar had only been awaiting the arrival of His spiritual successor.
Sekharan attained monkhood and started discipling with Guru Gurupadar. Even before resigning the teaching job, Swamiji dissolved the Sree Rama Dasa Trust, and founded Sree Rama Dasa Mission to propagate the ideals of Sanatana Dharma with a pertinent emphasis on the original contributions made to it by Gurupadar. Under the capable vision of Swamiji, the Mission has evolved itself as a socio-cultural organization.
After three years, Neelakanta Gurupadar blessed Swamiji and attained Mahasamadhi. After which, Swamiji performed fourteen-year long penance on Sri Lalita Tripurasundari with a rigourous regime of conducting Pujas five times a day. Such an order of Sri Lalita Upasana has only been performed before by Adi Shankara.
All the renaissance movements and social reforms launched by various sages including Tunchatt Ramanujan Ezhuttachhan, Chattampi Swamikal, Sree Narayana Guru, and many other preceptors were purely based on spirituality and ethics. It was the greatness of Swamiji who had, in fact, stirred the consciousness of Keralam such that the renaissance efforts of preceptors were carried forward to second half of 20th Century.
Swamiji had undertaken protracted and profound penance near the Rama Paadam (Footprint of Lord Sri Ram) for long at Jatayumangalam. Rama Paadam is impressed from the footprint of Sri Ramachandra while granting Moksha (eternal liberation) to the legendary vulture demigod Jatayu by standing on one leg on the Jatayu Rama Rock. Swamiji installed the Deity of Lord Sri Ram in the “Kodanda” posture (standing posture with a bow in the left hand and arrows over the right shoulder) on the Jatayu Rama Rock at Chadayamangalam (the corrupted version of Jatayumangalam). The activities of the Mission assumed the form of a resurrection movement of Sanatana Dharma when Swamiji installed the idols of Lord Sri Ram, Goddess Sita Devi, Lord Anjaneya, Lord Shiva, Lord Nagaraja, etc., at the Palukachimala Hill in Northern Keralam where an ancient Hindu Temple had existed before. Some of the idols, that were mutilated by miscreants, were re-consecrated. The recognition that Swamiji received in the society enabled him to thwart each attempt made by the fanatic Christian Missionary to construct a Church through questionable means in the precincts of the Lord Mahadeva Temple at Nilaikkal located along Sabarimala and believed to be the Poonkavanam (garden) of Lord Ayyappa. Before long another attempt was made to humble the Hindus with tacit consent of the Ministry. A rostrum using steel girders and concrete pillars, described as temporary, was sought to be raised for the Pope’s visit at Thiruvanathapuram Beach exactly at the place where the “Arattu” (the ceremony of immersing the Deity in the water body) of Lord Sree Padmanabhaswamy would be performed twice every year since Centuries. The Hindus protested under the able leadership of Swamiji, and as a result the rostrum was removed after the Pope’s visit. Swamiji organised a convention of Hindu spiritual leaders in April 1983 and conducted a procession in its regard from Kannur in the North Kerala to Kanyakumari in the South. Swamiji conducted several tours in and out of India to propagate the ideals of the Mission.
Swamiji was the President of ‘Haindava Ekta Samaj’ and the Founder of ‘Hindu Aikya Vedi’. His Holiness was also the spiritual leader for ‘Kerala Pulayar Mahasabha’. At the national level, Swamiji had been the Executive Member of ‘Marg Darshak Mandal’ and ‘Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas Manch’. Swamiji had rivetted his attention towards commentating, explaining, and scientifically analyzing the Holy Vedas and their Principles. Thousands of hour-long speeches delivered by Swamiji were instrumental in checking the distortion of Vedas by the Westerners as well as the vested interests in India.
Pujaniya Swamiji is a multi-dimensional versatile person and social reformer. His Holiness is a saint-incarnation of the highest order and possessed Ashtaishwarya Sidhi like His Guru Brahmasree Neelakanta Gurupadar. Swamiji had been a Trikala Gyani whose awareness could span the past, the present, and the future. He had the ability to be present at distant places simultaneously. For instance, He visited the ailing devotees at Kochi during the US visit in 2000. His Holiness had also stopped the furious sea from invading a Temple located on the coast by commanding it to recede and occupy same proportion of land in an uninhabited island.
Swamiji was known for curing diseases by applying Vibhuti (sacred ash) on the forehead of the devotee. There were many instances wherein His Holiness has cured by command. A casual “you are cured” statements have healed the physical ailments of many.
Having ill-will to none and compassion for all, Swamiji, with His immeasurable spiritual power had given solace and happiness to the ailing and the downtrodden. More than 3000 alcoholics have been de-addicted at the Ashram under His blessing and guidance.
Swamiji is revered as “Kerala’s Vivekananda”. His Holiness is a veritable treasure of spiritual wisdom, an ecstatic devotee of Sri Lalita Tripurasundari, an eloquent orator on Civilisation and Sanatana Dharma, and a Yoga teacher par excellence. He is a poet and scholar of great philosophical depth. His poems are marked by their unusual rhythm and vivid imagination. His poetic expressions range from the devotional hymns and couplets for children to the highly philosophical and mystical chants on the Mother Divine and Lord Krishna at par with Mahishasura Mardini Stotram. He authored many books, articles, essays, and pamphlets on various aspects of Hinduism. His emphasis had been on the scientific interpretation of religion to highlight its essence and true scientific spirit. Swamiji has written several small but thought-provoking books, besides devotional poems, such as ‘Shivatandavam’, ‘Gurusankalpam’, and ‘Chaturvarnyam’. The dialectic adopted by Swamiji in the speeches and books is such that none has attempted to counter it till date. The inimitable oratorical style of Swamiji, combined with unlimited scholarship and divine brilliance of hermitage, had kept the audience spellbound for hours together.
Sampujya Swamiji published a ten-volume commentary on ‘The Adhyatma Ramayana’ bringing out the subtlest and most salient aspects of the epic hitherto uncovered by no scholar. He had magnificently brought to light the relevance of righteous living, the nobility of family, the brotherhood and social order, and the notion of polity in Ram Rajya (the Kingdom of Lord Sri Ram) in the modern and strife-torn world. Here are the published works of Swamiji in English – ‘An introduction to Ramayana’, ‘Reflections on Hinduism’, and the English translation of ‘Ramcharitmanas by Gōswāmi Tulasidās.
In 2000, His Holiness Swami Satyananda Saraswati delivered keynote address at the World Hindu Conference, Port of Spain – Trinidad and Tobago. His Holiness led the Indian delegates at the sessions on ‘Elimination of Poverty’ at the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders at the United Nations, in August. Swamiji was awarded the Hindu of the Year 2000, citation by the Federation of Hindu Association (FHA) – Los Angeles, for the outstanding contributions towards preaching and propagating the ideals and values of Sanatana Dharma. Inspired by the formation of ‘Kerala Hindus of North America’ for the transference of time-immemorial heritage and the unity of future generations towards guarding own culture; Swamiji inaugurated the first, second, and third biennial National Convention of Kerala Hindus of North America at Dallas in 2001, Houston in 2003 and Chicago in 2005. He had established centres of Sree Rama Dasa Mission across the United States of America in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Richmond, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Jose. With the blessings of Swamiji, the disciples established active centres in Malaysia, New Zealand, Switzerland, the Caribbean Islands, and the United Kingdom.
Swami Satyananda Saraswati restored many Temple with a religious zeal and consecrated new Deities across the globe. By 1980, Swamiji founded more than 13 institutions in India and abroad and established Kutumba Samiti (family communions) to impart cultural and civilization pride. In the year 1985, He hosted Acharya Sameeksha and Jyotiprayana. He was the Founding Chairman of Hindu Unity Forum. Swamiji was the progenitor of the prestigious Harivarasanam Project at Sabarimala. Swamiji envisioned the founding of the Malayalam Daily – ‘Punnyabhoomi’ and an international Hindu newspaper – ‘International Sanatana Daily’. In the year 2000, Swamiji organised an unparalleled Shatakoti Archana (1 Billion Chants) to commemorate the Centenary of Brahmasree Neelakanta Gurupadar. Swamiji organized Dwi-Shatakoti Archana (2 Billion Chants) at Sri Kshetra, Narayanpur, near Pune. From 1989, Swamiji was part of the ‘Sree Rama Navami Rathayatra’ covering the Southern States of India. Swamiji had also been attending the ‘Sree Rama Navami Hindu Maha Sammelan’ at Thiruvananthapuram since 1991.