This is the story of a remarkable being. Swami Pranvananda Saraswati was a sage with a difference. Born in a reputed Brahmin family of Bengal, he had become an engineer and was working in a major multinational company. He was the sole heir to a rich family fortune. At the young age of 27, he left it all to become a saffron robed sage. He practiced Yoga and meditation under the strict tutelage of the world renowned Swami Muktananda Paramhansa at Ganeshpuri. Then, with his teacher’s blessings, he retired to a dense forest tract in the Ajanta-Ellora forests and practiced deep meditation for 12 long years. His forest Ashram was situated next to the ancient Devi temple shrine of the Patne Devi (which dates back to the 12th century AD). It was also the seat of Bhaskaracharya, the great mathematic-cian. Swami Pranvananda Saraswati was a forest sage in the true tradition of the Atharvans, sages who had compiled the Atharva Veda. His meditation helped him to arouse the Kundalini and experience perennial ecstasy. His profound Sadhana gave us a remarkable Vedic perspective to the Kundalini Phenomena. The Soma experience lyrically describes the ecstasy we encounter in Kundalini Sadhna-the ecstasy that leads to a deep ecological understanding. Everything in this universe is conscious. There is no such thing as sentient or insentient. The Cosmos per se, is a vast ocean of consciousness. To touch that ocean within is to experience great ecstasy and happiness. That ecological understanding was the central message of Swami Pranvanandas teachings. The plants give us peace. Peace deepens to bliss, bliss to euphoria and euphoria leads to that supreme ecstasy of Soma. That was the simple philosophy of Pranvananda. It stemmed from the depth of his own personal experience. He gave no sermons. He just lived the Vedic truths in his being. He was a being of boundless charisma. He was a great revivalist and exemplar. He was indeed a representative of the Vishnu Consciousness of a civilisational revival.
Brigadier GD Bakshi, SM,VSM is a serving officer in the Indian Army. He holds a Masters Degree in Defence Science and an M Phil in Strategic Studies from te University of Madras. He has served in many prestigious posts and was decorated twice for operations in J&K. He has taught at the Indian Millitary Academy and the Defence Services Staff Collage Wellington for three years each. He has authored nine books and over 50 papers in prestigious journals. He was one of the oldest disciples of Swami Pranvananda Saraswati and had the privilege of recording most of the events of this book at first hand. This book is his personal tribute to a unique and remarkable sage, who gave us a Vedic perspective to the Kundalini phenomena.
This is a book about a remarkable being, about a sage who lived for many years in a dense forest in the Ajanta-Ellora tract, absorbed in deep meditation. In the forest, he felt the peace that emanates from the plants. He experienced the tranquillity that comes from the trees. Over the months and years this peace deepened and blossomed into euphoria. Extended episodes of euphoria led to experiences of intense ecstasy. He encountered the experiences of Soma-the sunlit tracts of a river of happiness that tinkles in the depths of our consciousness. The Vedas speak of the “Ritasyadharas” or the “Madhudharas”- the streams of Truth and Honey that descend on us from the great silence of the forest to make us joyful. He had experienced he ecological ecstasy of those streams of sunlit joy. He had tasted Soma. In his deep meditations he had touched that core of truth, aliveness and ecstasy that forms the basis of our immortal selves.
The Atharva Veda, the most mystic of all the Vedas, records a remarkable dialogue. The sage Shaunaka asked the great Sage Angira
“Lord, which is that Science having known which all else is known?”
“That”, replied the sae Angira “is the Science of Brahman. Having known that all else is known”.
The modern sage of Patne, Swami Pranvananda Saraswati was such a sage. He was an Atharvan. He was a knower of Brahman, the one having known which all else is known. He was an exemplar and a revivalist of our sacred traditions. He did not preach sermons. He taught us by his silence and his shining example. His actions spoke far louder than his words. He taught us to love the plants and trees. He exhorted us to cultivate an ecological outlook. Everything in the Universe, he said, is conscious. There is no such thing as “Jada” or “Chetan” as sentient or insentient, as “living” and “non-living”. We have a kinship with the stars, comets and galaxies, with the rocks and minerals, with the oceans and seas, with the birds, beasts and trees, with all these life forms in the universe. All these myriads of things that we see around us, arise from that infinite ocean of consciousness-energy-that Chit Shakti. To experience that ocean in our hearts we have to be silent and still. Only then can we hear the murmur of that eternal river of happiness that courses in the depths of our being; only then can we rise on the waves of an immortal ecstasy –the wave of bliss that arises in the “Hridyat Samudrat” the ocean of our hearts. To be fearless is to be free. To be free is to be joyful. The greatest fetter is the fetter of time that conditions us to our reality. We have to unlearn this reality before we evolve to the next through the gateway of ecstasy and the portals of heavenly peace. This is the saga of a remarkable life. This is the saga of a remarkable sage- the sage of Patne. One was blessed to bask in his aura of healing and happiness. One was blessed in deed to learn from him the art of deep meditation. It is an art and an outlook that mankind needs most urgently to tide over its looming crises and the impending ecological catastrophes. These have made the present industrial civilisation wholly unsustainable. What we need is a revolution in our outlook- from the material to the mystical; from the economic to the ecological, from ennui to ecstasy. All this, the sage said, will come from a paradigm shift from the Western Darwinian metaphor of a struggle for survival, where the weak perish and only the strong survive, to the infinitely more harmonious paradigm of the Atharva Veda enunciates this paradigm in its quintessential Madhu Vidya- or the “Wisdom of Honey”. “All things on this earth are beneficial to one another and to this earth. The earth in turn is beneficial to all its creatures”. The contrast with the Darwinian metaphor of ceaseless struggle and competition could not be more marked. Here is an outlook of harmony, of symbiosis, of a network of communities and supportive relationships as opposed to a fierce struggle for survival.
Swami Pranvananda Saraswati taught us to live in harmony with nature; he taught us to leverage upon the peace that the plants exude; he taught us to be still and silent. He taught us the lost art of deep meditation and in the bargain we leant to go beyond the stressors of linear time that forever speeds from the past, to the present and into a future that we do not know. Months of meditation caused us to transit from a linear to a cyclic mode of time. In the bargain the peace blossomed into bliss, the bliss into euphoria and euphoria culminated in supreme ecstasy. We learnt to be joyful and free.
His was a remarkable life, remarkable for its gift of ecstasy and understanding. He lived as an exemplar of the ancient traditions of this land. His life taught us those ancient values, not by sermons and discourses but by personal example. Modernisation is not mere Westernisation. He taught us the validity to the ancient Indian meditative cultures in this day and age. He chose as his action field and domain a forest stretch near Ellora that breathed history. He built his retreat in the Forest stretches between the ancient Ajanta and Ellora caves—right beneath the Pitanglya Vihara of the Buddhist monks of the 2nd century before Christ. The tract was also the seat of the renowned Bhaskaracharya – the great Indian Mathematical genius who discovered the zero. It was in this historic forest region that the he sat down to meditate, to transcend the barriers of space and time and link us with that ancient past of a deeply contemplative civilization. The Rajpath from the ancient city of Ujjaint to Prathisthan (Paithan) passed through this forest tract. At every one days march, there were Buddhist Chaityas and Viharas located along this route to inner peace and external plentitude. A rich and vibrant culture flourished here. He showed us the riches of our own heritage even as he showed us a new future that embraces all life forms, not just on this planet but everywhere in the vast reaches of inter stellar space. That Consciousness- Energy is the basal material of this cosmos. It is the same everywhere. All that we see and do not see, is fashioned from its joy. Pranvananda’s life and experiences were remarkable in as much as they gave us a Vedic perspective to the ancient phenomena of the Kundalini.
Today, many years after he has gone, we invoke again that joyfulness and ecstasy that he taught us to experience in our own beings. That Chitshakti is beyond space and time. It is the cause of everything that we see in the universe. To know the truth. That is the depth ecology of consciousness. He who has experienced it, will be know by the sparkle of a supreme ecstasy in his eyes and the tears of joy that bathe his being in beatitude.
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