Footsteps to follow
A great association: Glimpses into the life of Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha
Author: Swami Nirviseshananda Tirtha
Publisher: Narayanashrama Tapovanam
– Rashmi Rawat
“My dear son you cannot see a Mahatma with your eyes. To see a Mahatma is to know his inner dimensions,” replied Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha ji (Poojya Swami ji) once when Swami Nirviseshananda Tirtha ji, visited him with a wish to see a Mahatma. “How can I know his inner dimensions if I don’t have them myself?” This quest made Nirviseshanandaji live in his company and imbibe his simple and open-minded qualities by becoming his disciple.
After spending many years with Swami Bhoomananda, Swami Nirviseshananda penned his Master’s life and mission in his book, A Great Association: Glimpses into the life of Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha. Divided into eight chapters, the book beautifully traces the life of a self-realised Master. It presents some fundamental aspects of Swami Bhoomananda’s personality through events, statements, and anecdotes.
Born in an orthodox Brahmin family, Swami Bhoomananda’s devotional traits were inherited from his parents. From going to the temple regularly after a bath and putting vibhuti (sacred ash) stripes all over the body to discussing Shankaracharya’s poetry, particularly Bhaja Govindam, with all the rhythm and melody, Swamiji was inclined towards devotion since childhood.
One of the chapters in the book throws light on Brahmavidya or self- knowledge where the Master very beautifully states, “Brahmavidya is the knowledge of the supreme reality which is our own real identity. It is like a blazing fire that burns all our constrictions, desires, and delusions. As a picture of fire cannot burn or illumine, mere theoretical knowledge of the Self cannot free us from our impurities, bondages, and ignorance. This knowledge has to be lived. It has to be an experiential knowledge, a first-hand discovery.”
Believing that a Self-knower demonstrates the ability to bring exceptional changes in society, this renowned saint of Narayanashrama Tapovanam, Kerala, protested against various cruel religious practices like the Garudan Thookkam ritual, where people hang from nails pierced in their bodies to please the goddess. He abolished caste discrimination in Guruvayur temple, removing the vestiges of untouchability, and stopped the playing of lewd songs during the Bharani festival in Kodungallur Bhagavathy temple.
Mentioned above are just a few extraordinary events in Swami Bhoomananda ’s life. The sharp-witted analysis and depiction of his life through ample pictures will greatly benefit true spiritual seekers.
An essential guide
25 Essentials to Happy Living
Author: Preeti Pathak
Publisher: Vishwakarma Publications
– Punya Srivastava
Preeti Pathak’s 25 Essentials to Happy Living is a sleek manual to live, as the title says, a happy life. Pathak, a devotee and follower of Paramhansa Yogananda, comes up with a ‘stripped-to-basics’ guide on how to live a harmonious life with a peaceful mind. Its 160 pages are filled with the author’s reflections and insights which, without sounding preachy, talk to the reader in a simple language. And that is the major scoring point for this guide. Doing away with the spiritual jargon, this ship steers clear of heavy-duty lingo that has found pride of place in the hobnobbing circle of New Age spirituality.
Instead, Pathak writes with a simple yet fluid pen on stress, anger, ego, possessiveness, and how to manage these emotions. Each chapter, not more than three pages long, is a succinct commentary on various aspects of work and life and how to do away with stress and bring in much-needed harmony. The author generously shares her insights that she gleaned from her walk on the path of Self-realisation, under the tutelage of Ananda Sangha, a materialisation of Paramhansa Yogananda’s dream.
Each chapter ends with a related quote of the Divine Master. Though she does not delve deeper into the gorges of conflicting issues that mar one’s life, her writing remains engrossing for someone who badly needs to sit and untangle the tight knots of stress and commotion that have wound themselves around their mind and soul.
Pathak’s is the kind of sleek, to-the-point book that one would pick up when visited by conflicting emotions and thumb through quickly, to arrive at the desired chapter, which works like a balm, whispering soothing words to calm one down and offer what one actually needs to listen to at the moment. This book holds no new revelation that would change your life but works as a gentle reminder to bring you back on the path when you start to veer off.
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