Extract of an article from the March 2009 issue of Gnana Oli.
Sathgurudev’s spontaneous and overwhelming love and affection for all and His profuse hospitality is unique. Even if a devotees arrives at odd time, Sathgurudev would warmly receive him and enquire about his welfare and ensure that his stay at the ashram is comfortable. He would ask him to take food first and would personally supervise the arrangements for food at the ashram. Quite often he would personally present at the meal time to see that the devotees were properly fed. Sathgurudev would not eat until and unless he was sure that all the devotees were served food. Sathgurudev was incredibly observant of the devotees’ needs and would see that they were satisfied. His hospitality knew no bounds and he showered love and affection on all of them. Like the gopis of Brindaban, each one felt that he only enjoyed Sathgurudev’s blessings in abundant measure to the exclusion of all others. A devotee might be sleeping in the open exposed to cold breeze and Sathgurudev would send blanket to him. These things get imprinted in the hearts of devotees for ever.
Once Swami Satchidananda of Sri Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh came to Thapovanam. Sathgurudev came to know that he would not eat anything but fruits. So, he specially arranged for fruits to be brought from the bazaar two miles away. Again, on a hot summer day, some ladies from abroad came to Thapovanam to have dharshan of Swamiji. Swamiji arranged for Apple Juice to be served to them. They were deeply touched by his gesture. Swamiji was personification of courtesy. Thus he set an example of what a host should be – “Athithi Sathkara-“. Swami abhishiktananda recalls his first meeting with Sathgurudev. He and his friend visited the Ashram and later went out to the nearby town for lunch, thinking that there would be no facilities at the ashram. They were shocked when they came to know later that Swamiji has waited for a long time for them that morning in order to have their company for lunch.
Sathgurudev laid great emphasis on “Annadhana” i.e. offering of food. All important functions at the ashram usually concluded with feeding of the poor. This reminds of the esoteric significance of food mentioned in “Taittirya Upanishad”.
“From food, verily are produced all creatures – whatsoever dwell on earth. By food alone, furthermore, do they live and unto food, in the end do they return; for food alone is the oldest of all beings and therefore, it is called the panacea for all.
They who worship food as Brahman obtain all food. From food all creatures are born; by food, when born they grow. Because it is eaten by beings and because it eats beings, it is called food”. (Part II – Chapter II(1)).
The devotees attached great importance to receiving Prasad at his hands and eating the food served by him. Sathgurudev’s loving care of them had great impact n them. But, really speaking, Sathgurudev’s hospitality and humility were in a sense the washing off the ego. It was a process of preparing the devotees for total surrender of their ego to the Master (and God).
It may be mentioned here that Swamiji would give instructions to prepare food for ten people. But, at lunch time, fifty or sixty people would turnup at the ashram and all would be served food to their heart’s content. Not even a single person would go without food. His Grace worked and is still working.
(adopted from: “ SATHGURU GNANANANDA-HIS PERSONALITY”)
JAI SARGURUNATH MAHARAJ KI JAI
As per Tamilnadu Government Announcement, the Ashram will be open for devotees from September 1st onwards. The government has released Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for devotees visiting temples. We request devotees to abide by the rules and regulations in the Standard Operating Procedure.
Devotees are requested to call the ashram office to pre-book their poojas and stay at the ashram. To prevent the spread of the COVID virus through the public, it has been decided to restrict the number of Devotees visiting Thapovanam for some time, and hence the pre-booking is a necessity.
Please call at least two days ahead of time to book your stay at Ashram. Please travel to Thapovanam only after obtaining due permission from the office.