In this early Childhood, Swami Shashwat Ji used to sit in meditation and repeat the name of Lord Rama. At the age of fourteen, he left his home to travel all over India, living for many years in forests and on the banks of holy rivers. Since 2013, he welcomes spiritual seekers from all over the world in a small cottage in Rishikesh, where meditation and satsang take place every evening.
In his first book, Swamiji addresses the readers as if the latter is sitting by his side his "dear one". Every paragraph, each sentence, hammers the tiny "me" that believe it knows everything. Awamiji's direct teachings of non-duality (Advaita Vedanta) remind us of grand masters like Ramana Maharshi or Nisargadatta Maharaj. As opposed to most spiritual books, often influenced by the author's acquired intellectual knowledge, Swamiji's words are of unique freshness. He delivers a truly authentic and firsthand testimony, Without referring to anything but the present moment, in which everything is already available. After reading his words, all we have to do is keep quiet, listen to the sacred Silence, and recognize that eternal Bliss which we are, in which everything happens, spontaneously and effortlessly.
Swami Shashwat Ji was born in 1985 in the Dhar district of the Narmada region in Madhya Pradesh. His parents named him "Krishna". By the grace of God, he repeatedly chanted the name of Lord Rama from the tender age of five. He started meditating for several hours every morning and every evening at the age of seven or eight.
At that time, he had three aims in life – to become a scientist, to serve his country or to search for the truth. From this young age itself, his interest grew in searching for new things and in serving others, but Swamiji also used to wonder if, after death, he would become a plant or a tree, an insect or a bug, a bird a bird or an animal. When someone died in the village, Seamiji used to think, "This person has worked so hard, made a name for himself or herself, made money, and yet, he or she is dead. Will I also be cremated or buried?"
It became very clear to him that no matter how much wealth, respect or status one has, death is inevitable, and it is impossible to avoid this cycle of life and death. So, he turned his mind away from everything else and completely surrendered to the love of the divine. He would spend most of his time remembering the Lord.
Listening to stories about saints like Dhruv and Prahlad increased his longing so much that he too decided to go deep into the forest to do japa and meditation. He had heard that God protects his devotes in all places and in all situations, and he was sure that the Lord would also protect him. He has no knowledge of sacred texts, nor the company of holy men and saints, but only faith and trust in the Lord. At the age of fourteen, he left his home in the search for God.
Swamiji's guru, Baba Shri Gajanandji Maharaj, greatly contributed to his spiritual practice. Swamiji started wandering to the four corners of India in the company of saints and holy men. Sometimes, he used to stay in the same place for some time, in the service of holy men, for his spiritual practice, or simply because it was a place of pilgrimage. The longing to find God and unite with Him became so strong that he had only one thought, "When will I see Him?" He would constantly fight with his mind, and try and find a way to calm it. He would sit and cry alone, remembering the Lord. Then, he had the vision of a holy man, and the divine being said to him, "Do not fight with the mind, observe the mind as a seer, as a witness. Whatever is happening in the body and in the mind through the senses, experience that." From that time onwards, his mind started to become calmer, and his meditation became more natural.
In the year 2007, Swamiji began a pilgrimage around the Narmada river. His spiritual practice was frequently guided by visions of unseen forces. During this Narmada pilgrimage, an occult force told him to focus on the breath and on the inner sound. From that time onwards, he began to feel more stillness and one-pointedness of the mind.
In 2008, in a place called Madhupuri, Swamiji was sitting casually by the river, at 8 o'clock in evening, when suddenly, a bright light spread in him and all around him. His senses and sensations stopped, and this intense energy in the form of light spread in all four directions. He experienced this moment as if it were death, and felt truly blissful. From that moment onwards, he has been in a state of profound peace, absolute stillness and pure awareness. His natural state at all times is one of Self-knowledge, and this state does not leave him for even a single moment.
After this realization of his true nature, his journey continued. He liked to be alone on the banks of the Ganga or in the jungle. People who would meet him for a short time would like to spend time with him. Therefore, Swamiji would never stay in one place, so that no one would recognize him or speak to him. Whatever he could find, like fruits, vegetables or leaves, he would eat as the Lord's prasad. He would carry an earthen pot and a gunny sack, in order to keep people at a distance, because a handi (earthen pot) is considered inauspicious. People had started calling him "Handiwale Baba".
Swamiji says that, like the waves of the ocean, all outer things are ever-changing, but the depth of the ocean is peaceful. Similarly, there is something within us that never changes, that is always still and unchanging in every situation. Swamiji has not prescribed any particular technique of meditation. He says to watch whatever is happening in the present moment in a natural way, without desire or intention.
He says, "I do not belong to any caste, creed or religion. All actions happening through the body, mind, intellect and senses do not even touch me. No action touches my true nature, but everything happens due to it. The void, the peace and the stillness are everywhere, like the open sky; everything happens due to it, but nothing affects it. This is our true nature."
Swamiji says that love is everywhere, and in order to feel it, one must empty the mind of imagination and desire, because only the emptiness will allow the love to come in. He feels bliss, joy and love in him and all around him, and those who come to him with an open heart are filled with inner joy, celebration and love.
"Krishna" was born in 1985 in a small village in Madhya Pradesh, on the banks of the river Narmada. His parents were "simple, honest and innocent people, without any formal education", and they spent their time working in the fields and taking care of their two sons, of whom Krishna was the youngest. His father was a spiritual person. Krishna spent a lot of time with his great-unlce who performed the daily puja (ritual) in a temple dedicated to Goddess Durga, and this is how his spiritual journey began. Moreover, Krishna's childhood friend and playmate used to recount stories that he had heard from his own father, about the experiences of different devotees; he used to talk to Krishna about 6the lives of Dhruv, Prahlad and Narasimha, their sadhana (spiritual practice) and the means by which they had united with God. When Krishna heard these stories, something changed in him, and he began his own intensive spiritual practice. At the time, he was about four or five years old. Even at that tender age, he started repeating the name of Lord Rama for several hours everyday. He knew nothing else and did no other practice. He had only heard that by repeating the Lord's name it is possible to unite with Him forever (yoga), share His Vision (darshana) and be free of the infernal cycle of sickness, suffering and death (samsara). Deeply affected by this, he began to sir and repeat the Lord's name (name japa) for several hours at a stretch, everyday. His practice became more intense, naturally and automatically. All around him, he noticed that everything and everything and everybody, without exception, dies one day. He realized that "no matter how educated one is, how much money one earns or how much one succeeds in life, death is inevitable". This led young Krishna to question the meaning of life and death, and he asked himself, again, "Will I also die one day and become a tree, an ant, an insect, a bird or an animal?" He contemplated this constantly and felt that remembering the Lord's name might be a way out of it all. So he started practicing japa, day and night, no matter what he was doing or where he was. Whether he was sitting down, standing up or walking around, he only wanted to unite with the Lord.
One evening in 1999, Krishna and his childhood friend ran away from home in the middle of the night. They left a letter, saying that they were leaving of their own will, and that they would never return. Following the example of Dhruv and Prahlad, who had left their homes in their childhood, Krishna and his friend ran away to establish a serious spiritual practice, having faith in the Lord's protection over them. But the families found the letter and brought the runaways back home. The young boys did not clearly explain the reasons for their sudden departure, and they waited a whole year before making a new attempt to escape. With only a few rupees in their pockets to pay the bus fare, they left once again. And this time, they did not leave a letter...
Both families were very worried and looked for them everywhere. Krishna's parents were unable to understand why he had left, because there was no apparent reason. Nobody ever reprimanded him; on the contrary, he had always received a lot of love and care. So why did he leave so suddenly? The family was anxious and sent people everywhere to look for him, even to far off places. After one year, Krishna's elder brother found the young ascetic, and he told Krishna how weakened and troubled their parents were by his departure; they just could not accept that he was gone. He pleaded with his younger brother to come back home, at least once, and explain his reasons for leaving. And so, Krishna decision and blessed him, because the search for God is a noble cause. And Krishna immediately set out once again.
Thus, in the year 2001, he went to live with his guru, Baba Shri Gajananda Ji Maharaj. For about one and a half years, he stayed at the latter's ashram in Madhya Pradesh. Krishna felt a very strong inner connection with his guru; by his side, he always felt a deep sense of peace, openness and clarity. His immense faith, devotion and love allowed him to surrender completely to the Divine. He had met his guru as a child, because Shri Gajananda Ji Maharaj was also the family guru. He was a "Siddha Purusha" (an accomplished being) and a grand Self-realized yogi. In 2004, Krishna went to the Kumbh Mela in Ujjain before walking all the way to the Himalayan foothills. He continued his spiritual practice and the repetition of the Adi Shakti mantra that his guru has bestowed upon him.
After this journey, Krishna went back to Gajananda Ji's ashram for some months, then set out once again, stopping in different ashrams and holy places for a few weeks, but preferring natural spots with caves in which he could stay. Since his voyage in the Himalayas, he had developed a keen interest in yoga. If he heard about a grand yogi, a master or a saint, he would travel several kilometres to meet him. The story of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa increased his interest in meditation, and something changed in his practice. During one meditation, he had the vision of a yogi who told him to stop fighting against the mind and watch all actions like a witness. He lost no time in putting these instructions into practice.
In the year 2007, he began a circular journey on foot (parikrama) along the river Narmada, one of the seven important rivers in India. One evening in 2008, he was in Madhupuri, sitting peacefully under a tree on the riverside, doing nothing in particular, when suddenly "a blinding light like millions of suns and a resounding sound like Om" came from within and spread all around him; he felt a rush of energy surge from his lower spine (muladhara) to the top of his head (sahasrara). This unique experience plunged him into inner stillness and infinite peace. The sound, the vibration and the light were so intense that the he felt body would let go It. Was a death-like experience during which he felt profound bless, a feeling that has never left him. "Since then," he recounts today, "the light has changed, the sound has changed, everything has changed except this tranquil stillness which has never ceased to exist, this true nature that never changes, that has no name and no form, and that is One with everything ."
After this experience, he did not feel the need to interact with people, but only wished to remain immersed in himself. Even if he was in a city or in a crowded marketplace, this stillness never changed. He would go to the forest like he would go into a city, feeling the Oneness everywhere: "No matter where I was, I felt that stillness everywhere". It was like there was only one space in him and all around him; there was neither his body nor other bodies, neither seer nor seen, but only this peaceful, impersonal and still void, in which the entire world seems to play out like a movie on a screen.
Life in the jungle offers close contact with nature. When he lived in the forest, Swamiji Would eat leaves or wild fruits. One day, he came face to face with a leopard: he looked the animal in the eye, took two step towards it and said, "Hari Om Bhaiyya!" "The poor beast" he says, "It lowered its head and went the other way. So I followed it, for about two kilometres, but it hid somewhere and I lost its trace." Very often, a mother leopard and her cubs would sit a few meters away from him. Despite the danger that such a situation could represent, the feline would leave him alone. They all lived together peacefully. He remembers how the elephants used to come very close to him, ripping off branches and playing under his tranquil and loving gaze. When he used to follow the practice of standing in meditation in the Narmada river from the crack of dawn until an hour after sunset, he would be immersed in water up to his neck and repeat the Lost name. Very often, a dozen snakes would encircle him, swim around him and entwine his body. Sometimes, he would meditate all night dawn, then sleep for a few hours, meditate again from mid-day to early afternoon, seated on a rock under which a big snake lived. On many occasions, people visiting the temple saw the snake climb out from beneath the rock and rise up behind Swamili's head. They would regularly tell him about this, but he never saw it with his own eyes. Swamiji was never afraid of the wild animals, neither the leopards, nor the insects, neither the elephants and monkeys, nor the snakes. For, the one who can recognize the omnipresence of Divine Consciousness in all beings is in harmony with them, and feels loves for all. From he who is One with all beings emanates a peaceful vibration, which is contagious, which can be felt by animals, and which, in turn, tranquilizes them. Numerous examples to illustrate thus exist in the lives of saints like Ramana Maharshi. In his case , Swamiji says that it is faith in God that has always protected him from fear and danger; no matter what happens he is always under His protection.
From 2008 onwards, Swamiji would spend his time along the river Ganga, between Haridwar and Rishikesh. Sometimes, he would sleep in ashrams, and at other times, in the jungle or in the mountains overhanging Rishikesh, alone and in silent contemplation. From time to time, he would accept raw vegetable as alms. When people gave him money, Swamiji would systematically redistribute it amongst the poor, like a silent reminder of the Christ's words: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." He only wished to remain immersed in himself, seeking neither to meet nor speak with others. People began to address him as "Pujya Krishnananda Swami", recalling the name that his parents had given him, as well as the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Others would call him "Handiwale Baba", because of the earthen pot that he used to carry with him; or "Junglewale Baba", the one who lives in the jungles; or "Pedwale Baba", because he used to live beneath a tree; "Mouna Baba", because he hardly ever spoke; or even "Avadhuta Baba", to evoke his perpetual wanderings and his immense inner freedom. Or they called him "swamiji", a frequent appellation used to address holy men in India.
In the year 2010, at the Kumbh Mela in Hardiwar, he met several devotees who began to manifest the desire to see him regularly in order to receive his teachings, be in his presence and especially to enjoy his contagious goodness and joy. Swamiji used to live in the forest in those days and was hardly accessible to most people, even though one could trace him deep into the jungle. A few devotee began to venture into the dense forest full of wild animals to spend a brief moment in his company, seated beneath a tree. Swamiji would only talk for a few minutes or remain totally silent. But the people would still come, sit with him for a while for a while and then leave, without saying a word. These were challenging conditions for the devotees, and some offered to build a house or an ashram where he could stay. They wanted him to stop living in those precarious conditions, telling him that he should take care of himself and have enough to eat and drink at all times. But Swamiji adamantly refused; he did not wish for something to be built especially for him. For a long time, he continued to live in the same manner. Then one day, he met an elderly lady who suggested that he live in one of her small houses in Rishikesh. He eventually accepted her proposition. And this is how, from 2012 onwards, he began to live in the house, in what people would qualify as "normal" conditions. Slowly and surely, by word of mouth, seekers from all around the world began trickling into the small house where, due to his unique presence, reigns a peaceful and blissful atmosphere.
Dear Ones, all living beings look for happiness in this terrestrial life. God is Sat Chit Ananda and we merge with Him. In order to make our lives more joyful, we engage in useless activities and seek happiness in external objects. When, in fact, happiness flows within us at every moment. The one who has tasted this essential bliss cannot explain it to others, for it would be like a dumb man trying to describe the taste of jaggery, he can only smile, but cannot express the taste with words.
In this book, Swamiji has presented the direct path to readers and spiritual seekers; and those who walk on it can taste the nectar of supreme bliss for themselves. He has described a direct and practical way to recognize this "state" in our daily lives; the "state", in which you have neither the desire nor the need to possess anything.
According to Swamiji, if we are the witness and the knower of the actions that we perform with the mind and the senses, or of the deep rooted feelings in us, then we can experience our everlasting and true nature. It is the birthright of every individual to know his true nature. In any place or situation, irrespective of whether one can make time for spiritual practice or not, if one walks on the path indicated by Swamiji, nothing can stop him or her from experiencing true peace. It does not matter if you have been unable to recognize the Self in your whole lifetime, if you live your last moments with awareness, then you will be able to recognize It.
Irrespective of whether you are happy or sad, no matter what state you are in, or whether you live your life in a pious, dishonest or modest way, it does make difference. Just be aware in the present moment and live a life full of knowledge. By doing this you can reach the ultimate goal in life – knowing the Self.
Dear readers, if you want to know what the purpose of living a life of Self-knowledge is, if you want to know if and when it will allow you to realize the truth, then Swami Shashwatji has presented a detailed solution in this book.
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