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  Samabeta Upasana - Preface
BABAMANI Sri Sri Swarupananda Paramhansa Deva

Brahmachari SwarupanandaBabamoni often said to many while referring to himself “I am an ordinary person”. He deeply abhorred any propensity ever displayed by any of his followers to bracket him as Extraordinary. He never intended to get worshipped as an Avatar, nor did he want to be considered as someone separate than the others. His only wish was to take the concepts of Work to new heights by equating his life with hard stringent labor. On several occasions, he actually carried heavy loads on his own shoulder. He himself ploughed acres of infertile land and reaped good harvest. When required, he did not hesitate to take a long arduous journey from the barren lands of Singhbhum to reach the remotest hilly villages of Tripura and Chattagram to bless the lives of ordinary disciples. Thus he can rightfully say, "I am an ordinary person". 

The Gangopadhyay family residing at Chandpur in the district of Kumillah (in Bangladesh) was very famous for their handsome donations and endorsement to spiritual causes. Harihar Gangopadhyay who led the life of an ascetic even within the confines of his home was held in very high esteem by great Saint Bholananda Giri. This erudite scholar was also renowned for his philanthropic activities. His perceptions toward God had an Chandpurindelible stamp on the mind of his son, Satish Chandra, who used to seek his beloved through the songs that oozed out of his heart in endless streams. Even the burden of doing the household chores could not stop him from pursuing the lofty ideals of renunciation. Mamata Devi, his wife, was the true life-partner and helped her husband in every possible way so that he could remain on his chosen path till the end.

                                      Such was the ambience of this ‘Gangopadhyay’ family when this ‘ordinary’ man took a bodily appearance. He was born Bankim Chandra Gangopadhyay (nickname ‘Baltu’) on 26th December, 1899 in Dualli in Dhaka. Although loved by all, none could possibly miss the mark of extraordinariness that this child had since his infancy. His friends often realized that despite the childish playfulness, he did not seem to belong to this material world. They often discovered him sitting alone and lost in his thoughts. There are scores of stories that testify to his unusualness.

                                  Once little ‘Baltu’ was practicing hand-writing on the slate in his school. The teacher had asked each of the boys to write Bengali alphabets on their slates and get those approved by him. Baltu however found this proposition quite unmanageable. All the letters he was trying to write were taking the shape of Om. Even the teacher had the same experience.

How does a pussycat call his mother ?” Little Baltu once asked.

“Why, it’s meao”. His mother replied.

“It doesn’t sound like that to me, mama”. A confused Baltu answers meekly.

“It sounds like Om … Om …”.

Everything he heard became ‘Om’ to him. And he seemed lost in that sound. He did not find any interest in normal games and would always love to play ‘something special’. Once he called all his friends.

“Let’s play a new kind of game today.”

“What’s that ?” Asked the young boys, their eyes buzzed with excitement.

“Let’s see how long we can meditate ?”

                                         Baltu was nine years old then. This game had so fascinated him that this became a passion for him spending long hours in meditative posture in the lonely ground of Chandpur. Chandpur

                                          Since childhood, Baltu had a deep feeling of self-respect. The rules of the school he used to go to was that the first bench would be reserved for the most brilliant who answered all the questions correctly. The first seat of the first bench was therefore permanently reserved for Baltu who had no parallel in the class in study matters. If anyone ever occupied his seat, Baltu would not go to any other bench but go to the last bench instead. Then answering all the questions correctly, he would victoriously earn his seat once again on the first bench.

                                         Another incident of his childhood bear testimony to this sense of self-esteem. Once his grand father took him to a meeting Where Kalimohan Ghosh would be the main speaker. As the grand father was a respected person in the locality, they were ushered to the stage and little Baltu sat comfortably on a chair on the stage itself along with his grand father. Hari OmThe District Magistrate who presided over the meeting called Sri Ghosh to deliver his address. As the lecture continued, someone whispered, a bit jokingly,

“Hey Baltu, would you give your speech too ?”

“Why not ?” retorted the little boy.

“But the Magistrate must call me the way he has called Sri Ghosh.”

                                   The dialogue finally reached the ears of the Magistrate, who, although surprised, did not hesitate to earnestly call this little boy to say something to the public. The lecture of this little kid did charm the audience. The oratorical excellence that Swami Swarupananda was famous for in his later years was amply reflected in this incident.

                                      Once he passed with distinction from Pogos School in Dakha, he came to Kolkata and took admission in Surendranath College.SurendraNath College Although he studied vigorously, the suffering of his motherland under the British rule would make him often restless. And when the examination neared, he even filled up the form for his B.A, but the idea of freeing the country from the British government had by then taken deep roots in his mind. And when the call came to abandon the examinations, he responded immediately. What happened next ?

                                             Bankim Chandra Gangopadhyay took sanyas and His Guru Mahamandaleshwar Jayendra Giri named him as Akhanda Mandaleshwar Swami Swarupananda Paramhanshadev at HaridwarKumbhaMela at Haridwar 1938 on the ceremony of MahaKumbha and his followers preferred to call him as "BABAMANI".

                                          Alas! Not much of what followed has ever been published. Although a renunciate by heart, Swami Swarupananda did not vacillate a bit to fit into the role of a revolutionary when it became clear to him that the British administration had purposely fettered the national aspiration and had halted its march to reach new heights of social and economic excellence. The man who advocated ‘Brahmacharya’ since his puberty, boldly announced “Freedom is my God, even Brahmacharya is next to it.” It is a pity that there is hardly any mention in the annals of Bengal’s revolutionary period of the contribution that Swami Swarupananda had made through his lectures and countless letters. Around 1914. Bengal was vibrant with thousands of young boys and girls ready to take up arms against the British rule. Swami Swarupananda started writing letters which were delivered surreptitiously to this young brigade motivating them to dedicate their lives to free their motherland from the shackles of bondage.

“ …… If I do not wake up, the nation will not wake up, too. If I do not arise, the nation will not arise, too. Those who have such belief in their hearts, can truly aspire to serve their nation. You need not count how many are still sleeping. Your motherland does not bother with such trivialities. She concerns herself with your own awakening…”

                                  Swami Swarupananda wrote innumerable number of letters. To earn his livelihood, he did all sorts of things. Sometimes he carried goods on his shoulder. At other times, he even pushed carts, but never resorted to mendicancy. There were days when he could not even manage a morsel of food to live on, but he hated begging from the core of his heart. Nor the hunger could deviate this man from his ideals. He printed a compilation of his own letters and named it “Karmer Pathe” . The seller ? Swami Swarupananda himself. Where did not he go to sell his book! Armed with copies of this book, he roamed about almost every district of Bengal to spread his message. Roadside tap water was enough to satiate his hunger. Thus the book earned its own place of honor, along with Gita, for a daily reading among the revolutionaries of Bengal. Ganesh Ghosh, one of the leaders of Chattagram uprising, carried hundreds of copies of ‘Karmer Pathe’ along with arms from Kolkata to Chattagram. Surya Sen, the indisputable leader of the movement, ordered that the copies be distributed among the members. The Gita of KaliWhen the rebellion was foiled and members arrested, nearly each of them had a copy of ‘Karmer Pathe’ found in his belongings. The result ? Swami Swarupananda was arrested immediately. Whenever a person was imprisoned in charge of brewing rebel against the government and this hallowed book found in his possession, Swami Swarupananda found himself quickly behind the bars.

                                     After the independence, however, Swami Swarupananda alias Babamani plunged into what he had been nurturing since long – to found an Ashram where he could shape up his ideals. PupunkiAfter some search, he decided to set up his ashram at Pupanki, a lonely hamlet in Jharkhand, nearly 40 Kms away from Dhanbad. What followed was more enchanting than a folklore. To convert the arid land of Singhbhum into a fertile one, he needed a dam to hold water round the year. Once some fund was collected, Babamani got into the business of making bricks and with the help of the local populace – mostly the Santals who readily agreed to extend their helping hands – laid those to make the reservoir, the Mangal Sagar. Once ill-famed for aridity, the area surrounding Pupanki gradually wore a verdant look as little sprouts popped up their heads and swayed merrily with the breeze. Then came up a school for boys only. Never before had the people inhabiting the area thought that their children would one day go to a school, dressed neatly in their uniforms. Pupunki-still a dreamThen came up other buildings, one after another. The Ashram building, the Guesthouse, the Multiversity. Babamani had long cherished the dream of setting up of an institution that would cater to inculcation of highest standards of ethical principles among the students. An institution that would imbue its students with the principles of righteousness, honesty and self-reliance. An institution whose graduates would one day shake up the world with their courage, probity and diligence. The Multiversity was inaugurated on 1st January, 1974 in order to give final shape to these ideals. And the Ashram, Mangal Kutir. Located amidst a serene ambience and lush greenery, it draws one immediately in.

                                 In succeeding years, Pupunki ashram played a pivotal role to bring about all-round development in the locality. With the land gradually becoming fertile, people resorted to agricultural activities with renewed interest.Pupunki Ayachak Ashram Babamani distributed lakhs of imported seeds of various fruits and seasonal flowers among the villagers so that the local economy surged ahead. Pupunki thus became a mute witness of the untold history of a superhuman winning over whatever resistance he had been forced to confront with.

                                    The same exemplary tradition of fighting against the opposition was repeated at Varanasi, too, when he decided to open an Ashram there. Here the resistance came from the Pandas and the local conceited Brahmins. In the year 1937, he established ‘Ajachak Ashram’ in a small rented house. Ajachak is he who does not beg or solicit help. Sadhana Debi, a Brahmacharini, used to make paper dolls all day long and Brahmachari Snehamoy would sell those in the market. 

                                               Distressed by the sight of complete lack of harmony among the people, Babamani decided to tie them up all by a single thread. Om TempleOmkar or the Pranava, the sacred hymn that was kept hidden for ages from the reach of the common people, was the thread he used. He used the same chant for all irrespective of their caste and creed and dreamt that people, despite their pain and sufferings, their affliction and agony, would be able to lift themselves up to newer heights of physical, mental and spiritual accomplishments. Unfortunately, the Pandits of Varanasi were not ready to accept this generosity. They invited Swami Swarupananda to a debate in order to prove that dispensation of Pranava among the rank and file would be a sacrilege for this holy mantra. Swami Swarupananda accepted the offer but demanded an impartial arbiter to decide on the proceedings. The Pandits quickly stepped back and swallowed the infallibility of his unifying principle through the Pranava. 

                                        Barnard Philips, the noted indologist, who spent a day with Babamani when he was eighty years old, commented, “It’s probably easier to fly as fast as a rocket, but not with Swarupanandaji.”

On 21th April, 1984, he left this mortal body to merge into the Omnipresent Spirit.

Swarupananda Paramhansa

Comments on this page:
Comment posted by Jayanta debnath( jayantadebnath9436gmail.com ), 06/01/2015 at 7:47am (UTC):
Joy guru

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