Akhandamandaleshwar Sri Sri Swami Swarupananda Paramahansadev, a famous mystic of the 20th century India was born on 26th December in the year 1899 at Dualli, now in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in a distinguished and devout Brahmin family. His childhood name was Bankim Chandra Gangopadhyay. His grandfather Sri Harihar Gangopadhyay led the life of an ascetic within the confines of his family. Many saints and sages often visited their house as the Gangopadhyay family was famous for their generosity, voluntary donations and endorsement to spiritual causes. The ambience of the Gangopadhyay family was such that it made an indelible mark on the mind of little Bankim (nick named Baltu).
From his childhood days, it was evident to those around him that the depth of his awareness and feeling of the spiritual was far ahead from the rest of the lot. From the very childhood, “Baltu” had the spirit of sacrifice and renunciation. He was generous in helping anybody if asked for and often questioned the validity of superstitious customs and discrimination based on caste and religion.
One inspiring feature among many people, especially in their youth, is a longing to do some outstanding work, to dream of accomplishing, achieving something sensational. We call it a spirit of idealism or spirit of youth and the realization of human destiny depends upon how well those dreams are realized and how someone prepares himself to materialize his dreams. We find this successfully reflected in Bankim’s (Baltu) life.
Baltu from the very age of nine years indulged in different types of games quite to the astonishment of others. He used to ask his friends to sit in meditative posture and see for how long each of them can meditate. The God intoxicated child was so fascinated that this became a passion for him to sit for hours in a lonely place away from the cacophony of his friends and jurisdiction of his family.
His capability of going into intense meditation with ease and capacity of intense mental concentration helped him a lot to grasp essential subject matter in the books in a very short period of time.
Baltu advanced in his studies with distinction and at a later stage took admission in Surendranath College. Although he took sincere steps to pursue graduation, but the ache, agony, pain and sufferings of his motherland under the near 200 years of British imperialism made him to change his course. He took a plunge in freedom movement immediately.
Participating in the freedom movement never created any obstacle in his quest for spiritual renunciation and in the later stage Bankim Chandra Gangopadhyay took sanyas and was named Akhandamandaleshwar Sri Sri Swami Swarupananda Paramahansadev by his guru Mahamandaleshwar Jayandra Giri at Haridwar on the occasion of Maha Kumbh. Swamiji later came to be known as “Babamoni” as his followers lovingly preferred to call him by that name.
Babamoni’s whole life was literally an uninterrupted contemplation of God. He reached the state of supreme consciousness that transcends all barriers of time, place. Babamoni silently brought up a revolution in the history of Hindu mythology by influencing the existing religious thought currents and by establishing what he believed and advocated from his very childhood to propagate, disseminate the worship of “Omkar”, the other name or symbol of the supreme Brahman, the infinite, omnipresent, omnipotent, incorporeal, impersonal, transcendent reality that is the divine ground of all being. Omkar or the Pranava, the sacred symbol, the single syllabled incantation of the Brahman, was kept hidden for ages from the reach of common people. Babamoni was the first to realize that “Om” the spontaneous “anahata-nada” is indivisible, symbolizes the totality of all sounds, doctrine, philosophy and is undisputed so he considered it to be the best means that can help to tie the different warring groups, communities, sects under the umbrella of Hinduism into a cohesive unit. He thus used the same chant, seed (mantra) for all caste, creed and sincerely expected people to overcome all their barriers inflicted from affliction, adversity, misfortune and lift themselves up to a higher level of mental, physical and spiritual accomplishments.
Swami Swarupananda also advocated the practice of Brahmacharyya or Celibacy from his puberty. He emphasized that to build a healthy society, a rich nation, practice of Brahmacharyya among the students, youths was a must. He mentioned that the practice of Brahmacharyya was essential as it invigorates the moral consciousness and strengthens the moral back bone. Moreover attainment of eternal bliss with eternal happiness demands sincere implementation of Brahmacharyya vrata.
Brahmacharyya was of paramount importance to Babamoni as he felt from the very core of his heart that chastity was the cornerstone of all morality and all religion. He repeatedly stressed on the fact that Celibacy (Brahmacharyya) should be strictly practiced from the very childhood to generate a sense of moral restraint, to develop a sense of justice, righteousness including personal responsibilities and commitment towards family, society, nation and on the whole humanity. Babamoni said, only sincere and strict observance of Brahmacharyya (continence) can create conducive atmosphere where great masters, spiritual leaders and social reformers like Vashishtha, Vishwamitra, Buddha, Shankaracharyya, Gauranga Mahaprabhu, Sri Ramkrishna, Swami Vivekananda can be born again. Lack of Brahmacharyya and pure-souled Brahmacharins and Brahmacharinis have brought our motherland to the brink of ruin.
Babamoni’s ideals, his works were based on three pillars, one of them being Brahmacharyya (Celibacy); others were “Abhiksha” (non-begging) and “Swabalamban” (Self reliance). The concept of Abhiksha (non-begging) and “Ayachak vritti” (vow for non-solicitance) was unique in the world of austere, ascetic, religious practices (Sadhna). He never asked for any sort of help (financial or physical) from any person, neither he expressed any desire to anyone to generate, accumulate sufficient funds for the smooth running of the sangha and its expansion thereby. He relied on self-sufficiency (which he preached) to generate funds from cultivation in the land within the Ashram premises, making available quality seeds for farming, production of Ayurvedic (Herbal) medicines (the subject on which he had an enviable command) and sale of books and periodicals. Relying on “Abhiksha” and “Ayachak vritti”, Babamoni provided non-publicized, selfless service to humanity only to disseminate spiritual knowledge in the way to provide peace and harmony to every individual irrespective of caste, creed and religion. He virtually awakened the moral and spiritual consciousness in the hearts of people. The impact was overwhelming among the youth as they came flocking and it turned out to be an incessant flow of seeking souls in the doorstep of this great saint.
Swami Swarupananda Paramahansadev, popularly known as Babamoni, was an embodiment of moral and spiritual self discipline and a harmonious combination of intellectuality and rationalism. He had an intelligent acquaintance with modern ideas and thoughts prevailing in the world as well as ancient ideas that were either forgotten or obscured. With the vast extended boundaries of his knowledge, study, his extraordinary deep insight and clarity of thought, his power of simplifying complicated, abstruse philosophical ideas, his power of delivering impartial judgments on confusing, conflicting ideals and practices, Babamoni successfully harboured upon logical derivations of the different doctrines prevalent in our society, problems emanating from these in different ages, countries and sects and the way it appeared in its present form, he critically examined them to come to his own conclusion.
His doctrine of impersonalization of Spiritual Mentor/educator is a successful implementation of his deep insight and thoughts. Babamoni had an inborn capacity of picking out universal truths from the particular grabs in which they are clothed, an aptitude for thinking rationally, systematically from patent facts to potent truths and from prevailing beliefs, prejudices to underlying principles universally recognized and acceptable. Babamoni visualized that among the various symbols, different traditions what is common and unique is ‘OM’ because of its universal character. He envisioned sacred ‘OM’ as the essence of everything, the supreme reality that has been kept under wraps for years for the elite classes of the Hindu religion enjoying the order of the honour. Babamoni a prophet of Sanatan Dharma, the eternal religion of the Vedas, sensibly un-earthed the most precious gem of all gems, most sacred of all sacred words, the seed mantra or mystic syllable of all syllables for the common people, the masses. In the process Babamoni gave his new divine message that, ‘OM’ is the symbol of infinite, cosmic consciousness, the ultimate also known as Pranava. ‘OM’ or Pranava the most sacred word of Vedas, the Upanishads is the one that leads to the new knowledge of pure self. ‘OM’ or the Pranava is the origin, the foundation of the Vedic Sanatan Dharma and so he said knowledge, that is the ultimate reality, that is omnipresent originates from Infinite consciousness or God, radiates to the receptor, the cause through ‘Sad Gurus’ or Spiritual masters those who have attained salvation. A Guru (Spiritual mentor) acts as a repository of spiritual force which he transmits to future generations through successive links of Guru and Shishya (disciple). So the Guru or the master may be different for different followers but the origin remains the same the Brahman, the all pervading and undifferentiated Pure consciousness, the one, absolute, immortal, boundless, eternal. The one which is with us as our soul, breathing, mind, existence, as water that quenches our thirst, as food that douses the flame of our hunger, as desire, in our beautiful attire, in every work, every thought, every feeling, every thing as the infinite, unlimited, boundless, supreme consciousness. He is the supreme Guru, the ever pure, the immutable that never changes. He is the savior, the liberator of mankind from the pain, misery of the materialistic world, from the bounds of the laws of time, space and causation or Maya.
He said Guru is not a human experience or a sensory experience. Guru is that intelligence that pervades the universe and is certainly moving all human beings towards that perfection that we call God. As a person you have been initiated into the technique of God-realization by your monastic Guru (spiritual mentor). It’s the most sacred and beautiful relationship. Respect him, love him from the very core of your heart, remain grateful to him as the person who has shown the path to elevate yourself to the state of infinite, transcendental consciousness but remember that, your Guru is one and only the Supreme Brahman, who is all powerful, adorable, Lord of all yogis and the only one to cure the ailment of birth and death.
He said with conviction, “I am not here to establish myself as your Guru to be worshipped. I am just a channel for receiving and transmitting by the power of powers. I have dressed up in this uniform (Guru) to introduce you to the original Guru, the source who is bliss incarnate, who bestows happiness, who is the source of infinite knowledge.” Babamoni said, in Akhanda cult a person seeking enlightenment or a spiritual aspirant, should not worry about who his Guru is or what his Guru is doing rather he should concentrate on organizing his thoughts, actions in a way conducive to his progress towards simplifying life, purification and selfless surrender.
Babamoni also said that henceforth a sadhak in Akhanda order who has experienced enlightenment, who has reached the citadel of truth, who has taken a plunge in the ocean of knowledge can show the way, through his grace can impart wisdom and bring to life within the seeker the ever present grace of God or pure consciousness that is alive in everyone’s life. He should incite within the student the urge, the will to undertake a purposeful journey in life, to do a meaningful spiritual work of life in the way of preparing himself but the only condition that he has to abide is that, he must shed his pride, ego of being a Guru. He is not the goal but only a medium to achieve the goal. He must remember that Guru is not a physical being but a force driven by grace.
Swami Swarupananda was in a class by himself. He belonged to another order, another world. He can be well described as a radiant being that had descended from another, higher sphere for a definite and meaningful purpose.
Swami Swarupanandaji departed his mortal body to merge into the omnipresent spirit on 21st April 1984.
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