Sep 24, 2013

Life Sketch of Swami Krishnanand

Man is the superb and supreme creation of God. Among all the animals, he has distinguished himself by his sense, intelligence and awakening to the highest level of life. Even among all the human beings, there are very few who have devoted their lives for others by offering them peace, happiness and mental satisfaction. Though few in number, such Saints are welcomed and worshiped by people. Among such saints the name of Swami Krishnani is glorious, unique and worth to be proud of. Despite having a common name “Krishnanand” he was a very unique and charismatic human being. This is only life sketch of Swami Krishnanand of Shanti Ashram, Bhadran.
Biography or Autobiography is a description of man’s life right from his birth till the end, in chronological order. Swamjii never wrote or allowed anyone to write about his life. He very firmly believed that his life was not meant to get exposed in words as he didn’t want publicity. Long back in 1980 I very humbly tried to get his consent to write about him, but very quietly and peacefully he denied my request. Every person’s spiritual progress is really a personal process.  Swamiji believed, when right maturity is achieved by a human being, he does find a Guru [a pathfinder, guide and teacher] who shows path to the follower. It is now for the follower to go ahead on the path. He firmly believed, one person’s life and progress cannot lead or encourage other person to live such life. This personal belief did not allow him to write his own autobiography or allowed others to write his biography. Now that he is not with us, I try to write his life sketch for the followers and friends to quench their thirst, to know him a little bit better.
He has never written detailed accounts of his life events but sometimes he described them during conversations and lectures. There were some who used to note down this events. Of those members, Dr. C.P.Goswmi - a pathologist from Ahmedabad, used to keep notes of his lectures. During my 20 years of his company I noted some events of his life, so in this attempt of drawing his life sketch I have taken help of Swamiji’s books, Dr. Goswami’s notes and my own notes.
Swamiji was Born on 26th August, 1920 at 12.18 p.m. at Maymyo (now Pyin Oo Lwin) in Burma a country near North-East of India. This birth date is confirmed in ‘Pathik-na-Anubhavo’ (Episodes & Experiences), where a ghost tells Swamiji his birth date during their conversation. Despite being born overseas Swamiji’s background was of an Indian family. The family migrated from India some three or four generations back and settled in Burma.
Swamiji enjoyed his childhood in a very rich and happy family. His father was Director in a bank and also a partner in Indo-Burma Petroleum (I.B.P) Company. Though a bit religious, his father was more conservative, well-disciplined and under the Western influence, while his mother was totally religious, having firm faith in God and well cultured. Because his father was busy in business, service and day-to-day affairs, Swamiji like other children, did spend most of the time with his mother. Other members in the family were a maternal uncle, six sisters, and a cousin brother. After five daughters, the family got twins - a daughter and a son. This son was he himself-the Swamiji. Swamiji had most affection with his twin-sister from all the family members; till he took Sanyas (renounce worldly and materialistic pursuits and dedicate life to spiritual pursuits).
During the childhood Swamiji was very influenced by his mama-the maternal uncle. After death of his wife [Mami - wife of his maternal uncle] at young age, mama left everything and became a Sanyasi. Mama used to live on the top floor of the house and his visitors were mostly Saints. His father did not like this group of Saints in his house and Mama was also aware of this dislike. But for the child this presence of Saints, religion, God, the talk and discussion-became the foundation for his future. In 1940 Ma Anandamayi conducted a yagya (an ancient ritual of offering and sublimating the havana sámagri (herbal preparations) in the fire) at a waterfall known as Aniskhan and Mama went there to attend and remained there till he died. Swamiji used to re-collect this incident interestingly and talked in details.
Born with a very high sense of understanding, this intelligent child started his primary education at home. Then passed his competitive test and straightway entered in fourth grade. Studying in an English medium school of Maymyo, this child cleared all his exams with very good result and used to keep his rank in between first and seventh in the class. He became one of the favorite students of his Principal. He appeared for the 1st year of College test but to the surprise and shock of all, was declared ‘Fail’. The Principal himself, along with Swamiji went to the university and on re-checking found the mistake in the total of marks, he was declared pass with 1st class. In 1940, he cleared his graduation with English Literature as special subject and General subjects as subsidiary once. He secured First Class and as a result a Gold Medal. He joined M.A. degree and kept English and History as his primary subjects. But unfortunately before the result was declared, the Second World War broke out. Along with many Indian, Families, this family also left Burma to migrate back to India. So naturally his study for M.A. was left unfinished and reminded so till the end.
Though he was a bright student with an excellent progress, he was a bit timid. Not to get harassed by the co-students, Swamiji used to keep his pockets full of chocolates to please them, he gave them generously. This gave him a nickname of ‘Sweety’. Although he was timid by nature, he did play mischief at times. It happened once that he slapped a co-student so hard that the glasses of that boy got broken. The result was obviously punishment. The teacher beat him with a wooden stick in front of the class. Swamiji used to narrate this uncommon-event in his lectures often. He was always quiet eager to learn something. Because of this nature he was loved by the wife of the principal. She compensated the absence of love from his mother who was busy with family duties. Apart from the motherly love from her, he learnt the manners of western life, western education and its impact on human nature. He never went to foreign countries after his arrival in India, but Swamiji was well versed in western manners of life due to the contact with principle’s wife.
Generally the studious students are not much interested in sports, but to the contrary Swamiji was taking part in Table-Tennis, Billiard and chess in his college days. He participated in Table-Tennis tournaments and won a Gold Medal, not only this he was also selected at the National Level. Though he remained aloof in other sports in his later age, but he had soft corner for chess. He had very good knowledge of chess; he read many books on it and even used electronic chess. He organized a State Level tournament for chess players at Bhadran. He organized it so nicely that some of the participants remember it even today. He had no interest in cricket and he did not miss a chance to narrate these in his lectures and books.
Due to the Second World War many Indian families left Burma for their home country India. Swamiji’s family was one of them. They, with a desire to go to Nagpur, their native place, left Burma. Four married and one unmarried sister left Burma by plane. Before Swamiji, his twin sister and parents reached the airport, the airport got destroyed by bombs during the war. Due to the collapse of air services they were forced to walk to Calcutta. Deserted areas, full of dead-bodies, absence of all the necessities like food and water, no shelter, pools of blood, limbs scattered all over was the picture he saw. Migrants were playing with the ornaments of gold and silver as none was needed, all they needed was food and water. People living nearby exploited the people and charged insanely for water and food. It was very tough to survive on with what little they had or found from empty houses on the way. He used to survive for 5-6 days from small amount of rice by adding water in it. Swamiji helped a rich man by risking his own life to get little rice for him. They reached Calcutta after three months. Swamiji was all with tears in his eyes whenever he used to narrate this horrific journey from Burma to Calcutta in his lectures.
At Calcutta they got shelter at a refugee camp. Now it was time to think about missing sisters who left by plane and about monetary conditions. During this tough time, fortunately they met his father’s friend Mr. Bashir who was one of the directors of Indo-Burma Petroleum Company. He helped them a lot, made arrangements for stay in a well-furnished hotel and in search of the sisters who were missing. Mr.Bashir helped to get the family money from the Burmese government, cash for the family’s shares in IBP Company and Insurance Company. The family got well-established again after receiving the financial aid.
At the end of 1942 the family shifted to Nagpur and settled there. Next year in 1943, his mother died and at the end of the same year his father died, that left both Swamiji and his twin-sister without family. He got a message informing that the missing sisters were in Manipur, Assam. Both Mr. Bashir and Swamiji left for Manipur to meet the sisters. On way Mr. Bashir got injured in an accident and was admitted to a hospital. Luckily they met the sisters and all came to Nagpur where they lived happily and peacefully. In 1944 Swamiji distributed the family property among sisters. His own part of around Rs. 1,00,000/- gave to his twin-sister. With this carefree position Swamiji left the house and opted for Sanyas.
 “I used to be timid from childhood and also was not fully devoted in god, so I took money enough to survive for almost a year. With one pair of clothe I left the house”, Swamiji used to tell his followers about his immature state when he took Sanyas. An Astrologer has forecasted when he was in Burma that three of his relatives would adopt Sanyas and so it did get materialized. First it was his maternal uncle, then a cousin brother and then he, himself.  There was no intention to seek enlightenment (ultimate spiritual state) nor did he have any childhood dreams of becoming a saint.
By leaving your home you don’t become a saint, it was just the beginning of his preparation to become a Sanyasi. He left his home-town and came to Nagpur where he purchased a ticket for Hubli, Karnataka. He reached to Kishkindhaa, a famous holy place. During his stay at Kishkindhaa, he roamed and visited many temples and caves. Then he went to Pampa Sarovar [a lake] where a carefree saint asked him to go to Anjanay cave and pray and visit Kartik Swami’s place. On third day he went and spent the whole night of non-stop prayer and meditation but to his surprise his co-partner in that Anjanay Cave was none other than a huge python. Swamiji has described this event in one of his books. He believed his journey to self-realization started from here.
In 1948, he came back to Nagpur from Hubli and officially adopted Sanyas. He was given the official name “Krishnanand” after that. He then started his long-journey on foot. The first long distance journey was from Nagpur to Karachi. Then it was from Surat to Pondicherry. At Karachi he met Capitan Ramdas. After Karachi he went to Sakkar, there he met a saint known as Aghori Mastram and served him well. Aghori Mastram sent him to Mirpurkhas where one Shri Makrana gave him proper guidance to become fearless. He went to Saurashtra where in Adityana in Ranavav he came in touch with Yogini Devi. He also met Vishwapremji and Shantipuriji while somewhere near Shillong he met a well-versed Yogi known as “Punarjanma”. In 1946 in Madhya Pradesh he met a great saint who described in detail Swamiji’s two former births before this one. All this helped him to learn and increase his own knowledge about spiritual-progress. He ended up in Bhadran first time in 1952.
On the cross roads near Ananand, without any reason Swamiji stared walking towards Borsad and was directed to go to Napa village. He stayed in a Shiv temple for three days. On fourth day when Swamiji started his journey to Petlad the Pujari of temple requested him to spend Chaturmas’ [a period of 4 months in monsoon during which the Saints don’t travel fearing to crush insects] in Bhadran. Swamiji took the path to Bhadran. 
‘Shanti Ashram’ is located in the west of Bhadran near the narrow-gauge railway station. A Patel built the ashram in memory of his young son’s death. The ashram was built in 1925, for any Saints to stay there for few days. When Swamiji came to this Ashram he was given welcome by a blind saint named Shri Gyaniji. Initially he was treated by the local devotees and trustees as an ordinary saint. After a month or so, one of the trustees came across an English book lying by the side of Swamiji, which was biography of Shri Ram Krishna Paramhans. He then realized that Swamiji was a learned one. Slowly Swamiji attracted some old aged and educated people from the town. He was given some facilities, especially that of water by the Late Chunibhai F. Patel and also invited him for the next ‘Chatur Mas’. Swamiji liked this quiet, lonely and peaceful place so he decides to spend next twelve Chatur Mas in Bhadran. In 1965, after the 12th Chaturmas Swamiji wanted to visit Cairo, Egypt which was his birth place in previous birth, but he did not get visa as war between India and Pakistan broke out.
After fulfilling his desire to complete 12 Chaturmas, he continued to do Chaturmas in Bhadran. He lived in Bhadran for 37 years more than half of his 69 years life.
In the beginning Swamiji’s daily schedule was different, most of the time was spent in prayer, meditation and reading. In the evening he would talk about his own experience from his travels. He was requested to write his experiences in a book to spread the true and inspiring stories. Due to his poor writing skills in Gujarati he started writing in English, which was translated in Gujarati. He was regarded as a very good writer by many, despite him being a saint.
Until 1975, Swamiji used to beg from houses for his food. It was mentioned by an astrologer that Swamiji reached highest pick of his ‘sadhana’ and achieved the supreme stage of self-realization and enlightenment during 1974-75.
After 1975, Swamiji’s daily routine changed. Instead of going to beg for food, he got a kitchen constructed in the Ashram. He also constructed a spacious bathroom near his prayer-room. He made some facilities for the guests also. During 1975 electricity was connected in the Ashram, till then he was using kerosene lamps.
Suitable to the nature of a spiritually devoted person, his schedule of the entire day was very perfect. He used to get up at 2.30 am in the morning every day in Bhadran or while travelling. He never altered this mid-night wake up time. After taking tea, he used to perform prayer and meditation between 3 am to 5.30 am. 5.30 am to 6.30 am for bath and other activities, 6.30 am to 7.30 am morning payers. 8 am to 9.30 am meeting with his devotees. 9.30 am to 10 am lunch, 10 am to 12 pm in the prayer room for meditation and rest. 12 pm to 2 pm was spent reading and responding to letters. 2.30 pm to 3.30 pm was spent for the mid-day bath. He used to meet people from outside of Bhadran in between 4 pm and 5 pm. 5 pm to 7 pm was spent again with the local devotees. Dinner at 7.30 pm and sleep from 8.15 pm was his unbroken daily schedule.
He never missed three occasions to visit Saurashtra.
1)To attend a mela (fair) at Mount Girnar on Maha Sivaratri (Maha Shivratri is a Hindu festival celebrated every year in reverence of Lord Shiva)
2)He would go to Savarkundla on the occasion of Jalzilana Ekadashi in the month of Bhadarva (11th month according to Gujarati calendar)
3)He would go to Bhavnagar in the month of January-Maha Shud Bij for a week.
When came in contact with the followers of Rajkot and Bhavnagar, it was learnt that Swamiji who used to keep his schedule tight and without a little change at the Ashram, he was not very strict follower of it in Saurashtra.
Guru Purnima is the unique celebration where and when a guru – a teacher is worshiped by all of his students and followers. Since his arrival in 1952, Guru Purnima was celebrated without a break.
Despite being a saint he was very proficient in social aspects of the world. He will advise his hosts well in advance of his intention of arrival. He never would use his host’s phone or vehicle. He was a very good person to manage long travels. He used to say ‘I never forget the person who has invited me for a dinner”. He served one of his host’s wife in the Ashram with same words and tone, he was served 22 years ago.
As mentioned earlier, Swamiji used to do very long distance travel by foot. He travelled to Badri-Kedar on foot three times, twice from Haridwar and once from Rudra Prayag. Due to extensive travel on foot his health deteriorated and he was unable to perform long travels. Then he started travelling in train, he preferred first class or A.C. Chair car. During his life time he visited Amarnath 5 times and Badri-Kedar 36 times. He has travelled roughly around 24,000 kms by foot and around 29,000 kms in train/car/plane.
Due to his difficult travels by foot his health got affected. First time in 1979 he got mild heart-attack. He needed to stay in Lady Pillar Hospital of Baroda for one and half month when he got the second heart-attack in 1980. In 1981, coronary bypass surgery operation was performed on him at the CMC hospital in Velor. Due to the dust of tobacco near the Ashram, Swamiji was having difficulty breathing. One of the devotee started building new Ashram for Swamiji in Dandi but due to legal issues the work was stopped. In the February of 1988 he underwent surgery for prostate gland, where he lost a lot of blood and experienced significant pain. His health was not very well in the last 10 years of his life. On 3rd August, 1989, while sleeping in his prayer room, in between 11 and 11.30 am he got a severe heart attack and he left us.
The medical students hardly get good bodies for study, which was known to Swamiji. So after the 1981 operation in Velor he decided that he would give his body to a Medical College. He arranged donation of his body to Karamsad Medical Hospital. He strongly recommended not starting any religion or fellowship after his death. He strongly stated that Shanti Ashram is a public place for saints and should not become a private property of his followers.
Swamiji created his own personality by learning and staying in touch with great soul and personalities like J. Krishnamurti, Dada Lekhraj, Shri Pandurang Athwale, Shri Mataji of Pondicherry, Dongreji Maharaj, Shambhu Maharaj and Acharya Rajnish. He accepted Shri Mota of Hariom Ashram as his guru and took deep interest in the activities of Hariom Ashram. Born in Burma, migrated to India and eventually made Bhadran his karmabhoomi (the land where one works). This soul was very unique and a privilege for the human kind.
May God Bless Us All.
Originally in Gujarati written by – N.N.Trivedi.