WHENCE THE FRAGRANCE OF CHINMAYA.... remembering gurudev through the words of paramguru Sri swami tapovanam

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How does Brahman look?
The persona of Swami Tapovan Maharaj

This story dates to a long time ago, when Pujya Guruji was resident in San Jose.

CM- Tirupati was organising a Jnana Yagna by Gurudev. For this event they were publishing a souvenir on the Life of Tapovan Maharaj. Now in Guruji’s words:

They wrote to me in San Jose for an article. As I sat to write, Tapovana-Stuti (Four verses in the praise of Tapovan Maharaj) just came to my mind spontaneously. I was pleasantly surprised with it and wanted to share the joy wuth Pujya Gurudev, so I faxed it to him at Sandeepany, Mumbai. What he wrote about it touched my heart; so I share it with you. He said, “I came here tired; your Tapovana-stuti has rejuvenated me!”

In the Introduction to Tapovananjali (a CCMT Publication) that glorifies Swami Tapovan Maharaj via the Tapovan Shatkam, Guruji explains in most simple manner why a walking-talking Guru inspires. He writes, “Brahman the Reality, is all pervading, attributeless, formless. It resides in all our hearts as our own Self. True. But that does not inspire us directly. It remains veiled for us. We need a Guru with form and attributes to reveal that Truth to us. Only when we see a person well-rooted in the Truth, do we feel assured that it is possible to walk the spiritual path and realize the Truth.”

This is the dilemma of most seekers.

But then Tapovan-stuti precisely addresses this by describing Tapovan Maharaj. Such was the persona of Swami Tapovan Maharaj, the Guru of Pujya Gurudev. And Pujya Guruji brings this out so beautifully in the stuti he composed:


Composed by Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda
संन्यास-धर्मो गहनो गभीरः आसीद् विचिन्वन् परमाश्रयं वै
कुत्राप्यपश्यन् स गतो हि देवं जगाद स्वस्यागमनस्य हेतुम्।
विलोक्य विश्वं सकलं महेशो ददर्श साधुं युवकं च केरले
प्रीतः स तुर्याश्रम-धर्ममाह गच्छाद्य तं वै पुरुषं भजस्व॥१॥

The virtue of Renunciation is deep and profound. It was searching for an abode for itself. Not finding it anywhere, it approached the Lord and spoke of the purpose of its visit. Looking around the world, the Lord saw a noble youth in Kerala. Pleased with him, the Lord said to Renunciation, “Go immediately to that youth and worship him.” (1)

संन्यास-धर्मेण परेण युक्तो विरोचमानः पुरुषो गतो हि
हिमालयं सर्व-नगाधिराजं दातुं यशस्स्वस्य निवासनेन।
काश्युत्तरयाञ्च कृताधिवासो गंगा-तटे यो यतिराज-वर्यः
स वै गुरोर्नो गुरुराजपूज्यः नाम्ना प्रसिध्दश्च तपोवनं वै॥२॥

Endowed with Supreme Renunciation, that brilliant person went t the Himalayas – the King of the mountains – to bestow glory on it by dwelling there. The best of sannyaasis who made Uttarkasi on the banks of the Ganges as his abode indeed is the revered Guru of our Guru and is well known by the name ‘Tapovanam’. (2)

तपोगुणोऽसिमन् परमत्वमाप संन्यासधर्मस्य च सर्वभावाः
गीतोपदिष्टो ह्यहमेव नित्य-संन्यासी न द्वेष्टि न काङ्क्षतीति।
कर्माणि सर्वाणि मनसा विसृज्य ह्यास्ते नवद्वर-पुरे च स्वामी
अकर्तृ-भावेन सदा स्वरूपे तिष्ठत्ययं नैव कुर्वन्न कारयन्॥३॥

The virtue of austerity found its fulfilment in him and so did all aspects of Renunciation. He indeed is the Sannyasi, indicated in the Bhagvad Gita, as one who has no likes and dislikes. Also the Swami dwells in the body of nine gates renouncing all actions by knowledge, ever abiding in his own Self, free from doership – neither doing nor causing any action. (3)

यस्यैक्यनिष्ठा बहुशोभमाना साकार-भकत्या शिव-विश्वनाथे
ज्ञानप्रदानेन च लोकसेवा सदा कृता येन सत्त्वैकवृत्त्या।
कैलासयात्रा ह्यतिदुर्गमा या पद्भ्यां कृता वै हिमवद्विभूतिना
तमेव भक्त्या च परमं गुरुं वै नमाम्यहं स्वामितपोवनं हि॥४॥​

With great devotion I bow to my grand Guru Swami Tapovanam, the glory of the Himalayas, whose abidance in the Self was beautified by the devotion to Lord Siva and who served the world selflessly by imparting knowledge and undertook the difficult pilgrimage of Kailas on foot. (4)

Such a description is aimed at describing for us how Brahman looks, adorned in renunciation, austerity, free from doership and selflessly imparting Knowledge – in the naam-roopa of Swami Tapovanam, who gave us Gurudev.

Tasmai namah Swami Tapovanaaya!

-Source: ‘Tapovan Stuti’, composed by Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda, from Tapovananjali, © Central Chinmaya Mission Trust (CCMT), reproduced courtesy of CCMT


Explaining Truth
Tapovan Maharaj’s simple explanation for how Truth cannot be understood without the medium of some conditioning.

(Extract from Himavat Vibhuti [ CCMT Publication, pg 51], a play on the life of Swami Tapovanam, based on Ishwar Darshan (CCMT Publication), written by TV Narayanaswamy with the blessings of Gurudev.)

Swami Tapovanam is sitting on the verandah of a thatched hut. Swami Chinmayananda, Mahadeva vanam, Govindagiri Maharaj, Anandagiri and a few more disciples are sitting ...

Tapovan: Conditioned Atman alone can be explained, discussed and grasped by the intellect. The scriptures and the teachers explain only conditioned Atman. Remove the condition and realise the Self.

Chinmaya: Gurudev! Why not then remove the conditioning and explain only the Pure Brahman? Why say it is the 'Eye of the Eye' without the Eye conditioning?

Tapovan: (looks at Chinmaya and smiles) Chinmaya can you get me some water to drink?

Chinmaya- (Perplexed, gets up and brings a lota (small pot) of water and places it before Tapovan Maharaj and stands there.)

Tapovan: any amount of intellectual understanding will not take us to our goal. [ ... ]

Chinmaya: Gurudev! Here is the water you wanted.

Tapovan: But did I ask you for a lota of water? Take the lota away and bring me the water.

Chinmaya: (Completely confused -- fumbles) But Gurudev, how ... lota ... without lota ... water... how water....

Tapovan: (affectionately) Never mind! Chinmaya, I understand your problem. Nobody can convey water without a vessel. So too, we cannot express the Truth except through the medium of some conditioning.

(Chinmaya prostrates with great reverence.)

-Source: ‘Himavat Vibhuti’, by T.V. Narayanaswamy, ©Central Chinmaya Mission Trust (CCMT), reproduced courtesy of CCMT


Form or Formless Brahman – No Quarrel!
The supreme ultimate goal of Bhakti and Jnana is the same, says Tapovan Maharaj.

IF the jnanis find their joy in meditating upon formless Brahman, the Bhaktas revel in the contemplation of the Divine Form.

Of course, there are not two gods, one with form another without it. God is one and so a Bhakta who loves the Divine Form intensely to the exclusion of everything else, has nothing more to gain. Let no one be under the illusion that the direct perception Para Brahma -- who has no form no attributes -- alone leads to salvation, that the Bhakta has not attained it, that he is yet to achieve it and that until he does so, the purpose of life remains unfulfilled.

If God has such a form without attributes -- a form whose perception alone will lead to salvation -- will not He disclose it to His true devotee one day or other and lead him on the supreme goal? The seeker of moksha, should therefore, refrain from indulging in wordy quarrels regarding the form or formlessness of Brahman.

If he is a bhakta, let him concentrate his mind upon the form of the Lord: if he is jnani let him try to acquire steadfast knowledge of the formless, through earnest study and discipline. The supreme ultimate goal of Bhakti and Jnana is the same.

-Source: Wanderings in the Himalayas by Swami Tapovan Maharaj, ©Central Chinmaya Mission Trust (CCMT), reproduced courtesy of CCMT
Pages: 280-281

Offered by: Shri L. Hemachandrudu, Chennai


Approaching the Param Guru
with the simple-minded faith of the village lady

( Extracted from Gurudev’s article: My Teacher: Swami Tapovanam )

During the Uttarakhand (the northern region) pilgrimage season, all varieties and types of seekers came to the Swami [Tapovanam] and He gave His advice as best suited to their temperaments and natures. In the beginning His way of teaching was rather confusing for me. An educated priest from Varanasi would come to discuss with Him some portions of the Rig Veda. The discussions would be entirely in Sanskrit, and the very conversation was held in very aphoristic style, implying subtle logic and significant lines of philosophic argument.

At this moment would enter a heaving old lady from a village, on her way to Gangotri – an uneducated ordinary woman. To the utter discomfort of the priest, Swamiji would suddenly leave the philosophical heights of His talk to inquire of the woman’s children at home, of her relatives, and would encourage her that surely all she had to do was visit the sacred Gangotri and she would return home with all her sins completely cleansed.

This capacity to sing in all tunes and with all notes is unavoidable in a great Teacher occupying a place of reverence and glory. It took years for others around Him to understand the necessity for such an agile mind in a Teacher. For there is no doubt in my mind that the faith – in the words of a sage and in the benefit of pilgrimages – of this simple-minded woman was such that when she returned to her village, she was not the same person who left it.

[ … ]

Swami Tapovanji Maharaj was not a person. He was not just any historical entity, He was not a saint of the ordinary order, He was indeed a miracle, and it is undoubtedly a great blessing for the society that He lived in our times. The glory of what the Mission is doing is all His glory.

[ … ]

It is that great Master who is your Grandsire (Param Guru) in this organisation, a silent witness to what is going on here. We, His family of disciples have a great responsibility to see that He finds ample space in our bosoms to express Himself. Swami Tapovanji Maharaj is a presence, a light, a fragrance, a glow. As such, it is impossible to communicate it. A light, a joy is something to be experienced. The only way to do it is by studying the Gita and learning to live the righteous life, so that we can experience what Swami Tapovanam was. Invoke His grace, a very powerful one, to make you an adhikari for the study of the Upanishads and for help in meditation.

Make use of Him – if you can.

-Source: “My Teacher, Swami Tapovanam” by Swami Chinmayananda, an article published in ‘Gurutattva’, © Central Chinmaya Mission Trust (CCMT), (Kannada Publications Division) reproduced courtesy of CCMT


Creating Samsara
Karma cannot be escaped even if action is only imagined

It is action with desire that produces Samsara. Desire, even without Action, causes Samsara. Even if one controls the external senses and desists from action, so long as he entertains desires, so long as there is action in his imagination, he doesn't escape from the sphere of Karma.

The Gita calls such a Man " Mithyacari " (hypocrite).

-Source: Autobiography of a Master, " Iswara-Darsana" (Chapter- 9, page 57) - © Central Chinmaya Mission Trust (CCMT), reproduced courtesy of CCMT

Offered by Shri R. Kartikeyan, Chennai


(extracted from, CALL OF THE PARAMGURU, a compilation of the writings of Sri Swami Tapovanam
Source: Tapovan Prasad 2005)

Selflessness is indeed a rare virtue. Everyone will readily declare that he or she lives for others and works for others, but all the boasted selflessness will be found to terminate in self-interest. One can acquire selflessness only through painful penance and endless effort extending over innumerable lives. To attain it is the ultimate objective of human life, as it liberates man from the chains of births and deaths. It is the gist of Vedantic teachings and of the teachings of the Buddha. Until one reaches the state of desirelessness, one has no escape from the clutches of death. The man who fails to utilise this life for the search after the Truth, or at least for the acquisition of those qualities which will ultimately lead him to the Truth, is really wasting his precious chance.

Nothing is more regrettable than wasting human life in eating, sleeping, fearing and mating, like brutes. People who, inflamed by the senses, spend their time coveting this and that, subject themselves to death - that is, they continue to be chained down to the cycle of births and deaths.

But those heroic souls that have conquered their minds and their senses, know how fleeting worldly pleasures are and therefore they give them up. They aim only at Immortality, they live for it, they exert themselves ceaselessly to reach it.

The sole means of Salvation is the true Knowledge of the one and only Soul. It may be called differently as jiva or Ishwara according to the different ways of looking at it, but it is the same Chaitanya (Consciousness). This Knowledge is the true Knowledge. It can be gained by proper study
of the Upanishads.

-Source: Tapovan Prasad, 2005


Not Even a Penny
The quality of surrender

God is everywhere and at all times. He sees everything. He understands the needs of all and supplies them as He knows fit. But man is hardly aware of this truth; even if he is aware of it, he does not fully believe it. Some evil in him obstructs complete self-surrender. Once a devout eighteen-year old Christian girl left her hearth and home to follow the Lord. When she renounced all earthly possessions, she kept just a penny with her for the next meal. Then she heard a voice from the sky, ''Did you give up everything else trusting to this one penny?" At once she replied, " My Lord! I came out trusting you, not to the penny," and immediately flung the coin. Now trusting solely to the care of the Lord, she proceeded on her way. For the man who relies on wealth, of what avail is God 's aid? For the devotee of God, what use is worldly wealth?

-Source: Wanderings in Himalayas, by Sri Swami Tapovanam, (Chandananath - page 174) - © Central Chinmaya Mission Trust (CCMT), reproduced courtesy of CCMT

Offered by Shri L. Hemachandrudu

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