Swami Sarvalokananda’s address at the book launch – of Swami Vireswarananda – a Divine Life on 30th November 2014
We read, we hear, we talk about the divinity, saintliness, divine life, etc. What is divinity? One must understand it.
Divinity is to feel oneness with others. Swami Vivekananda used to say again and again – ‘Feel, Feel, my dear brothers, feel from the heart.’ In other words “Unity in diversity” i.e. the feeling of oneness, is nothing but divinity.
This divine quality was fully manifested in the life of Swami Vireshwaranandaji Maharaj. He used to feel immensely for others, specially for the spiritual welfare of devotees and disciples. If you read his life, you will find his primary concern was the spiritual welfare of people.
After the first president of the Order Swami Brahmananda, Swami Vireshwarananda was the President for the longest period – 19 years. During the long tenure of his Presidentship, he blessed countless people – low and high, educated and uneducated, literate and illiterate, even the office peon, the cook, the sweeper of the Ashrama were not deprived of his blessings.
He felt very deeply for others – particularly for devotees and his disciples. Inspite of his old age, every year he used to visit many Centers of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission. The only purpose of this was to enquire about the spiritual development of disciples and devotees. When Swamiji was critically ill with the cancer of the esophagus, he was unable to swallow any food and his heath was extremely fragile. The doctors advised him complete rest. However, Swami Vireshwarananda – the kripasindhu did not care for doctor’s advice. Even while lying on the bed, he would give Darshan to countless devotees.
There was a devastating flood in West Bengal in 1978. The entire State was under water and Belur Math conducted relief work in Bally and other places. We were brahmacharins in the Training center. All monks and sannyasins were engaged in relief work. Swami Vireshwaranandaji would take a report of the relief work done by Ramakrishna Mission every day. One day, due to heavy rain, and because communication systems were totally disrupted, we came back to Belur Math after the relief work at around 1.00 am. Revered Maharaj of 87 years was sitting in his room, waiting for us. He did not have his food either. When his Sevaka requested him have food because it was very late, Swami Vireshwarananda said – “How can I have food without getting a report of the relief work and how the flood victims are.” After we came back at 1.00 am, we went to Swami Vireshwarananda who was anxiously waiting for the report. After hearing the details from us, he heaved a sigh of relief. This was his feeling for the people in distress!
Swami Vireshwaranandaji Maharaj was always concerned about the rural development work at Pallimangal. In those days the rural development work was not very active. Swami Vireshwarananda felt the need for the development of the poor villagers, and asked all monks and bramacharis to reach out to the villages. “You must do something for the villages. India still lives in villages” he said.
When we were in the training center, Ramakrishna Math and Mission had a dearth of money. All young bramacharis would feel hungry at 4.30/ 5.00 pm. There was no arrangement for snacks. One day when we went to Swami Vireshwarananda, he enquired about our wellbeing. With folded hands and humility we told him that we young bramacharis feel hungry in the evening. The minute he heard this, he became restless. He immediately called his Secretary – Swami Prameyanandaji Maharaj. He said “Ramgopal what is this? Bramacharis do not get snacks in the evening. You must immediately make some arrangements for their snacks.” That was the magnanimity of feeling that he had.
He was always very concerned for monastics. When I was a bramachari at Ramakrishna Mission Sevasharama Haridwar, Revered Maharaj visited the Kankhal Sevashrama. Fortunately I was given the service of taking care of him. One day he asked about an old Swami in the Sevasharama. I told him that this old Swami (Jatin Maharaj – Swami Nirodhananda – disciple of Swami Shivananda) is critically ill and has been admitted in our hospital. Swami Vireshwarananda immediately got up and said “I must see Jatin, please take me to the hospital”. It was afternoon and hence I said “Maharaj, it is summer, and scorching sun. Please go in the evening to see him.” He said “nothing doing, I will go and see Jatin now itself!” he walked to the hospital to see Jatin Maharaj. He entered Jatin Maharaj’s cabin and asked Jatin Maharaj “How are you? Are you feeling alright?” Jatin Maharaj stood up from his bed with folded hands and said “Maharaj, you are the President – the Sanghadhakysha. You are very busy. In spite of your busy schedule, in this scorching sun, you have come to see me!”. He was totally moved and tears were rolling down his cheeks.
He felt deeply for all –monastics, disciples, devotees, poor villagers and for the whole nation.
Swami Vireshwaranandaji would quote very often from Swami Vivekananda’s letter to the Maharaja of Mysore “My dear noble friend, life is very short, the vanities of life are very transitory. He alone lives who lives for others. The rest are more dead than alive.”
As newly ordained Sannyasins, we had gone to him for his blessings. At that time Swami Vireshwaranandaji said you must do something for the poor. You must preach the great ideas of the Holy Trio. One of the Sannyasins said – “Maharaj, don’t take it otherwise, when we run these big institutions – educational or medical, we undergo even physical torture. Sometimes we are humiliated, sometimes we are insulted.” After hearing this Swami Vireshwaranandaji became very grave. He said – “You are doing Thakur’s work. You have to do it. There is no other way. Have you become sannyasins just to take pranam and pranami? Look at the Christian missionaries – how much they dedicate, even sacrifice their lives for preaching the noble teaching of Jesus Christ.” Lastly he said – “Do or die, but I know you will not die.” These were his inspiring words.
He was the Sangha Nayaka. Who can be a leader in the true sense? According to Swami Vivekananda, he can be a true leader who can feel for others, who can accommodate 1000 minds. Swami Vireshwaranandaji was a true Sangha Nayak. For 19 years – not 1 or 2 years, he gave leadership to Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission.