Swami Narayandev Tirth
The Shaktipat Initiation of Swami Narayan Tirth Dev Maharaj was celebrated at the Swami Shivom Tirth New York Ashram on April 25, 1993. Shri Swami Shivom Tirth Maharaj, was in attendance and he addressed the audience with remarks concerning the significance of this great event. Several other people spoke concerning events from the life of Swami Narayan Tirth, and the following is a transcript of one of these talks:
Today I would like to talk a bit about a marvelous incident which occurred over one hundred years ago. The event I would like to talk about took place in a remote part of Eastern India during the latter part of the nineteen century. It involved a solitary man, one who had withdrawn from the world and given up all thoughts of worldly pleasures. This holy man lived in a small cottage near a pond called Chandan Talab. Although nowadays this area has become a populated area, in those days the cottage was very isolated and sat next to a great forest. This secluded sannyasin lived a life of renunciation, spiritual practices, and meditation far from any village or farm. He was full of divine energy, but, because of the high state of his mind, this great man made no attempt to preach or otherwise attract any followers. This saintly man was named Swami Gangadhar Tirth Maharaj.
Swami Gangadhar Tirth Maharaj lived a very simple, solitary life, yet he was very concerned with the affairs of the world. His only contact with the outside world was through a disciple, a humble man who provided his Guru with food by begging in a nearby village. One day, the yogic powers of Swami Gangadhar Tirth revealed to him that difficult times were ahead for ordinary people because of the effects of the age or era in which we now live. The period in which we now live, as you know, is called the Kali- Yuga, or the Age of Darkness. The Swami knew that the effects of the Kali- Yuga made it very difficult for ordinary people to remain on any spiritual path. He knew people would need help in finding spiritual illumination, since the influence of the Kali-Yuga made it difficult for people to advance spiritually unless they had already progressed to a high state of awareness. A most important aspect of this account is that Swami Gangadhar Tirth Maharaj had been blessed with the discovery of a very special means of awakening spiritual consciousness. This was truly a great discovery, since previously the awakening of spiritual consciousness was very difficult. Few people qualified for receiving help even from very advance souls. Because of the effects of the Kali-Yuga, no means were available to advance the cause of ordinary seekers because of these factors.
Now, although the great holy man was in possession of this marvelous means of assisting people in spiritual advancement, he was in a difficult position. He was restrained from spreading word of this remarkable method of awakening the sleeping spiritual energy in a person because of his unique state of awareness. He was in such a high state of spiritual bliss (samadhi) that it was not within his means to mix with people, to give talks, and to otherwise spread the news of this beneficial spiritual power. So he remained in solitude, waiting for that special person who would come to receive his gift, and to spread that gift among all those who had desires for spiritual advancement.
The remarkable event that was to take place also involved a young man, almost a boy. The boy was born as Kali Kishore in 1870 in East Bengal in what was then eastern India. He was born into a poor family and was married while he was still very young. However, even at that young age, he longed for a life of spirituality. Along with this longing for a spiritual way of life, he possessed many spiritual qualities. These qualities included detachment from worldly longings and control of his emotions. Soon, this yearning for a spiritual life became very uncomfortable for him, because it led him to make a decision that had a great effect on his later life. Kali Kishore decided at last to leave his home and family in order to seek out someone who could show him the way to find God.
Therefore, he renounce his home and family, and took up the ways of a wandering monk. He traveled widely, and he visited many holy places and sought the company of saintly persons. When he heard stories of holy men giving talks on spiritual matters, he would immediately go wherever they were rumored to be to hear their lectures. But, although he listened to a great many talks and spent as much time as possible in the company of these great men, he still felt unsatisfied, because these men did not reveal to him the truth he longed for. One day the young man was talking about his quest with another man, a Brahmachari, who was also dedicated to the quest for spiritual upliftment. When this Brahmachari learned of the longings of Kali Kishore, he told him of a saintly man who lived alone in a secluded woods, and suggested that this great man might assist him in his search. So the young man decided to accompany the Brahmachari to visit this secluded saint.
So it was that, one day, the young Kali Kishore came and stood before Swami Gangadhar Tirth. We know a little about the thoughts that entered their minds as they met. We know that the spiritual master Swami Gangadhar Tirth joyfully received this young aspirant, because he instantly recognized that here before him was a disciple worthy to receive the special power of spiritual awakening that he had waited so long to share with the world. And young Kali Kishore realized that here was a true sage, one who was capable of taking him to his goal of God- Realization. The Swami questioned the young man and found out about his great desire for a spiritual way of life. He was also informed by Kali Kishore that he had no family ties and was free to take on whatever duties were required of him. And so it was that Swami Gangadhar Tirth immediately arranged for the initiation of the young man with the special system of spiritual awakening that he had discovered.
On the very next morning, just as thousands have done since then, the young man rose early in the morning to take his bath and prepare himself for his spiritual blessing. He carefully bathed, per the direction of the Swami, in the waters of the pond named Chandan Talab near the cottage. At 4:00 AM, he appeared before his Guru, but, being a poor wanderer, he didn't have even a single rupee or any gift to give to his new master, as was the custom. But such gifts from an initiate were not important to this sage. And so, the great Swami, using his special method of transmission of spiritual energy, initiated Kali Kishore and activated the kundalini power within him. On April 25, 1889, Shri Swami Gangadhar Tirth Maharaj initiated his first and only known disciple. Shakti, the divine internal power, became immediately active within the young man at the time of his initiation, and he felt the powerful experience of the awakened kundalini. His body started to shake and tremble; he experienced moods of crying and laughing. All these movements were happening without any conscious thought on his part; they were all the play of an awakened kundalini within him. The young man was filled with a great joy and was in a heightened state of awareness for three days. On the third day, however, the great Swami had a vision which disturbed him. In his meditation, Swami Gangadhar Tirth saw that this new disciple was not free of family obligations as he had said. When questioned, the young man admitted that he had left behind a wife, mother, and brothers and sisters.
Such were the powers of this Swami Gangadhar Tirth that he could recall the divine energy he had just activated in this boy. He announced his decision, stating that although kundalini was activated, the boy would not continue to experience the marvelous benefits of Shakti. The Swami told the boy that he must return to his home and fulfill his duties to his wife and family. However, in spite of his disappointment with the boy for his lie, he could not still contain his joy in knowing what the future held for this new disciple. The mahatma therefore revealed to the boy that he should not be disappointed. "You should not be impatient," the swami revealed, "Everything will be right in the course of time. I have given you a spark of fire. This will surely spread over many parts of the world after some period of time."
Thus the disciple obeyed his new spiritual master, and returned home to fulfill his duties to his wife and family. Surely he was disappointed in, having seemingly reached the great object he had longed for, now saw it, for all he knew, taken away forever. Yet, the young disciple remained true to his Guruji, and upon reaching his home, found a job to provide for his family. Although he continued to sit in meditation, all signs of the awakened kundalini were missing. Still, he continued his spiritual practices according to the instructions given him by his Guru. And so it was that, one morning, exactly nineteen years, six months, and thirty days later, that he sat down for his morning meditation as usual. Then, suddenly, he again felt the rush of spiritual fire within him. He felt the ecstatic flow of divine energy return to him. He knew then that his Gurugi's promise had been true, and that he was now fit to resume his great journey. Rising from meditation, with the great glow of awakened kundalini still active within his breast, he immediately began to settle his affairs so that he could devote himself to his awakened spiritual energy. Now that all obligations to home and family were fulfilled, he was free to live the life of a renunciate.
He quit his job, and constructed a small cottage outside his home town, where he lived and meditated. His meditative ecstasy was strong and constant. One day, he felt an intense spiritual rapture come over him, and gazing upon a statue of Divine Kali, he felt the sudden urge to clean the statue. He picked up the statue and wiped it clean. Suddenly, the statue began to shine with an intense light, and in a flash of divine insight, he realized that his duty was to awaken the same brilliance within the hearts of men and women. He cast off his ordinary clothes, and put on the saffron robes of a god-seeking man. He took the name Swami Narayan Tirth and began to receive and bestow blessings on worshipers who heard stories of this new holy man. This power which was now completely active in the Swami was, of course, the system we now know as Shaktipat. And so it was that, instead of being lost, Shaktipat, this most beneficial method of spiritual awakening, was preserved for us and for future generations.
Swami Narayan Tirth soon began to initiate others into the Shaktipat system and as the number of followers grew, he founded a meditation center. The great spiritual personality of Swami Narayan Tirth bloomed as the years went by. The mood of ecstatic communion was constant in this great man, and it was said that he was in continuous meditation. Among the great teachings left by this saint, the following teaching is beautiful in its clarity and simplicity:
1. Get up early before sunrise every day without fail. Fold
up your bed and sit in meditation after performing the morning bath.
2. Nature is infinite and extravagant. It is capable of giving you anything you need. You should, however, exploit it to the extent you need. The sources of nature should never be wasted.
3. Lead a simple life and cherish high spiritual principles. Remain constant during pleasure or pain. Take your work to be the worship of God.
4. Do not interfere mentally in the movements of Shakti during meditation. Surrender yourself completely to Shakti, and give it liberty to operate upon you. Remain a witness throughout and rejoice while Shakti has its play in you.
Finally, and of great importance to us, among those he initiated was Shri Yoganandaji Maharaj. Shri Yoganandaji Maharaj in turned initiated Shri Swami Vishnu Tirth Maharaj , who initiated our present day Guru-Maharaj, Shri Swami Shivom Tirth Maharaj. Thus this majestic power of spirituality has been handed down and this same power is now available to all of us. Because of this important event, the science of Shaktipat is now spreading all over the world, as predicted by Shri Swami Gangadhar Tirth over one hundred years ago.
Version 2.0, January 1996
Copyright Narayan Prakash and Kurt Keutzer, 1996
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