Intellect Level: Every Breath A Teaching
Every day read at least 3 anecdotes of Pujya Gurudev’s life from “At Every Breath a Teaching”
His life itself is a scripture, his words are hymns,
His actions are blessings upon the world.
He is the fulfilled, the perfect.
In such an accomplished man, we watch God and His play.
I am the Pointer, Not the Pointed!
Dr Alexander Jacob, a senior IPS officer who is retired as Director General of Police was awarded the President’s Police Medal for meritorious service in 2004. In his speech at the inaugural function of the Chinmaya Birth Centenary Celebrations in Cochin in May 2015 he narrated a few of his interactions with Poojya Gurudev. Following is a representation of a part of his speech:
In 1986, Poojya Gurudev went to Trivandrum to give a talk at the All India Police meet. Poojya Gurudev’s started the talk with “You know the Geeta was told to uniformed officers. Arjuna was a uniformed officer like each one of you.”
All the DGPs and IGPs were clapping for almost five minutes. All of us had read the Geeta, but none of us ever felt that the Geeta was addressed to a person in uniform.
Then Poojya Gurudev continued, explaining that though it was addressed specifically to a man in uniform, the message was for the entire humanity.
All the senior police officers from all the 28 states of Kerala were spellbound for the next fort-five minutes and there was pin drop silence in the hall when occasionally Poojya Gurudev stopped. With just a single beautiful smile he had captured their minds and went on to clarify the message of the Geeta.
In 1991, I was in Trivandrum. Ten professors from Harvard University, including the head of the department of philosophy, were visiting Kerala. The Kerala government appointed me as a special officer to attend on those ten professors to give them glimpses of Kerala culture. One evening, I asked them if they would like to listen to a lecture by one of our famous sannyasis, Swami Chinmayananda. They said they would listen for fifteen minutes and then leave. Immediately, I called the organizers and reserved eleven seats in the front row.
Swamiji spoke for one and a half hours – one of the most fantastic speeches I have ever heard in my life. It was a wonderful exposition of Indian philosophy and the philosophy of the Bhagavat Geeta.
At the end of fifteen minutes, I asked the professors whether they would like to move, but they said they wanted to hear the whole speech. At the end of the talk to my utter surprise, the head of the philosophy department bowed down to Swamiji and touched his feet. He had never heard such a brilliant exposition of the Bhagavat Geeta.
In the words of Dr Alexander Jacob, “Of all the spiritual leaders I have met in my life, the greatest was Swami Chinmayanandaji. I was a Christian, a police officer in uniform, and yet I became an admirer of Swami Chinmayanandaji and was greatly influenced by his teachings, to the extent I became completely different to what I was. For that change and transformation in my life, I bow my head in reverence to Swami Chinmayanandaji.”
On one occasion a devotee asked Poojya Gurudev why he ate in a sliver thali. He replied, “It is the host who is giving me food on a silver thali. If he serves me in my hand, I’ll eat from my hand. I have a comfortable bed now, but if it is not there, I’ll sleep on the floor.”
Why read “Every Breath A Teaching”?
Poojya Gurudev dedicated 42 years of his life to us. Us - the ones who were there with him during his physical manifestation, the ones who have heard of him but never met him and the ones did not even know of him until recently. Yes, that’s true! Even today when he is not amongst us he continues to “reach” and “teach” and “guide” us.
“Every Breath A Teaching” is a compilation of experiences and anecdotes that devotees, admirers, and others had with Poojya Gurudev. Every episode described is a revelation of how this great Vedantin Master lived. His every breath (literally and figuratively), every living moment was a visible teaching and a demonstration of all that he advocated.
We often wonder - How does a Jivan Mukta live? Where can one go to find one, is there even One who has reached this stage? Is this state even possible or is it just a fable? Read “Every Breath A Teaching” and know such a master. In our culture the Puranas, Bhagvatam and other smritis relate great philosophies and spiritual values through simple stories as they help the listener imbibe these values through an engaging but impactful mode. “Every Breath A Teaching” is such a book and more. For it is not based on fables or stories but actual life experiences. Be it humor or an admonishment, a loving gesture or a public humiliation, every anecdote of Poojya Gurudev is like an oyster which reveals a flawless pearl of wisdom at its heart.
“Just soak gently in his presence as he reacts, interacts and dialogues with others around him on issues, trivial and sublime, big and small. You will get insights into life and people – and what is more, you will feel a personal connect with him.”
- An excerpt of the Preface of the book.
Every action done by him, be it a simple mundane routine one like drinking tea, dressing, or even writing letters would convey a subtle but deep value. Just being in his presence and watching him was a learning. He was someone who lived his talk! Nothing that he spoke about he had not done or experienced or was not living by it.
Your words will have no effect. Unless you are able to live it.
- Swami Chinmayananda
One learnt most through his silence! In his presence meditation was easy and one reached new heights effortlessly.
Poojya Gurudev was not a child prodigy who was born gifted. Instead he became who he was through self effort. In fact he was an atheist who went onto become a world renowned saint. Poojya Gurudev was known for his great oratory skills that would draw thousands of people from diverse backgrounds to sit quietly and listen to Vedanta – a subject considered dry and not of interest to the common man. That was not how he was in his youth. He was tongue-tied when his Guru Swami Sivanandaji spontaneously asked him to speak on a topic, while he was staying in Rishikesh. Next day he came prepared and gave his talk on Shreyas vs Preyas. He transformed with his efforts.
Poojya Gurudev’s characteristic sense of humor, his ability to instantaneously connect with any audience even a hostile one is legendary. All these qualities unfolded, his true potential manifested once he discovered the real purpose of life.
However his life was not an easy one even after he attained his goal. It was marked by many obstacles (faced opposition and was cursed by the Brahmin society during his first lecture in Chennai), severe heath issues (a couple of heart attacks, 16% of his heart was working in the last few years of this life), lack of funds, internal disturbances in the mission, etc but Poojya Gurudev never yielded to any obstacle or pressure. Every smiling, joking, full of life and wit through all these times he connected with everyone and inspired all around him.
“Every Breath A Teaching” is a collection of simple everyday occurrences, conflicts, problems, difficult situations that we all face as children, youth, householders, elders, homemakers, professionals, disciples, devotees, acharyas, brahmacharis in our day-to-day lives and how Poojya Gurudev showed the path to resolve and rise above them. His solutions were varied and different to the same problem – he adapted them to suit the individual. To some he would gently persuade, to others he would openly shout, but all done with love to awaken us and set us on the path. It is also a collection of Poojya Gurudev’s trials and tribulations as a shishya on the path and how he overcame and endured keeping his vision in mind.
For 42 years he worked tirelessly serving all selflessly. He was a Man of Perfection. His entire life was a message to all. “Every Breath A Teaching” is a small capsule, a window into the life of this great master. Even today when he is no more with us He is still guiding us through his DVD talks, books, commentaries, his interactions. His promise to us holds true even today - twenty three years after he passed away:
Whenever you need me,
Close your eyes and look into your heart
And I will be there!
- Swami Chinmayananda
We only need to have faith and walk the path he has shown us. “Every Breath A Teaching” is the easiest way to connect to him.
No Guru can prescribe short-cuts to you.
The shortest cut is to cut the ego into two and make a tunnel to the kingdom of Truth that lies within!
- Swami Chinmayananda
- Every day read at least 3 anecdotes of Pujya Gurudev’s life from “At Every Breath a Teaching”.
- Read these at a time when you are unlikely to be disturbed.
- Reread them slowly. Spend some time reflecting on them. By reading them again the incidents get embedded in our memory. When faced with a similar or disturbing situation these powerful anecdotes serve as guides as to how to react or handle the situation.
Beholding the presence of divinity everywhere at all times,
Mahatmas live in love,
Move in compassion
And breathe in service.
- Swami Chinmayananda
- Personal Satsang with Poojya Gurudev
Every moment spent reading this book is a private satsang with Him, a rare blessing! When we read about Poojya Gurudev’s interactions daily we form a connect, a bond with him. He is in our mind constantly even though we may not be aware of it. The anecdotes in the book serve as a ready guide to face the innumerable challenges that come our way.
- Every moment spent reading this book is a Learning
Poojya Gurudev’s life was a live demonstration of the values he taught. It was not mere “gyaan” or lip service. He walked the talk. The book throws light on how he personally handled as well as advised others how to overcome different challenges in different stages of life; as a householder, a devotee, a professional, etc. How he lived the qualities and values as prescribed in our scriptures – punctuality, cleanliness, preciseness, discipline, sadhanas, spiritual practices. These anecdotes inspire all kinds of people, be it devotees or non-believers alike.
- To understand how a Jivan Mukta lives
To the devotee or the spiritually inclined this book inspires us to aspire to reach the goal of life – Moksha, be a Jivan Mukta, a Man of Perfection. Every action of Poojya Gurudev was in accordance with what Shri Krishna has described in chapter 2 of the Bhagavat Geeta as the Sthitapajna Lakshana, characteristics of a Realized Man.
Beginners and Advanced:
True service of a teacher lies in the attempt of the student to attune himself to the principles of life,
Advocated and advised to him by the Master.
- Swami Chinmayananda
Do are advised above.
- Do as advised above.
- Read other books about the life and teachings of Poojya Gurudev. By being in constant touch with his teaching over a period of time we will develop the ability to monitor and correct our reactions to people and situations as worthy disciples of Poojya Gurudev.
UNTO HIM OUR BEST
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