The Teaching is condensed in the image of the Teacher. “The image is like a drop of the nectar of immortality fallen into the world of forms or like the sound of that celestial music that could charm a rose tree into flowering amid snow.” – a true symbol of the Swami.
His teaching was fundamentally the way of total renunciation so that finally there is no ego left to manifest itself. His communication with his disciples is never through the intermediary of things. It is direct, in depth at the source of his being. It is true that nothing is felt except a peace which reveals and illumines and which
transforms the one who can receive it.”
“He has come mainly not as a prophet to deliver a new message, but to affirm the truth and vitality of our religion in all its fundamentals and ramifications. Those who promise a new way cannot have, in fact, anything new to offer.
The swami would be lost in divine fervour at the mere mention of the name of Acharya Sankara and his own Guru. He would himself recite with deep emotion the line of Guru Parampara sloka, whenever the disciples were slow in catching up with it. Swami always used to recall his days with his guru, in a voice choked with reverence, devotion and emotion. Guru Bhakti arises out of the psychic communion existing between the disciple and the guru in the disciple’s heart. The guru is the spiritual father. In the words of Swami, “A true disciple has no sadhana to perform. He has only to surrender himself completely to guru”. Nothing could be nobler than the guru’s willingness to take over the disciple. The inmates and other disciples of Swami Gnanananda cherish the very word of “Guru bhakti” as they have been totally made to understand the importance of the same by Swami during many occasions. Swami believed in the spontaneity of surrender, the totality and the absoluteness of it. Time and again, swami has reiterated that we can attain realisation only through the guidance and blessings of the guru. In the words of Swami, “When the disciple is ready, the guru will automatically appear on the scene. Guru is verily the Divine in human form. Guru Bhakti would help us to do service with humility, destroy our ego and prove to be a constant source of inner strength. There is nothing in this world which cannot be attained with the ”anugraha” (blessing) or favour of the guru. The relationship between a guru and the disciple has been hailed as something without a parallel, as being entirely on a supra- human plane. The union between the guru and the disciple lifts us to “the plane of original non-duality”.
Swami introduced the “Guru Paduka Pooja”, a traditional form of worship at the ashram to develop guru bhakti and “seva bhava” in the devotees. To Swami, Padukas by themselves were only symbolic representation of the guru within. The swami was always totally absorbed at the time of the worship of Guru Padukas. The profound adoration, devotion and reverence Swami used to show during the "Guru Paduka Pooja" was a supreme experience to witness.
Besides opening ourselves through bhajan and prayer, the Swami suggests that there is another way. If we cannot all become ablaze with the love of the Real, we can at least seek the atmosphere of holiness, love and Godliness in Sat sanga or the association with the men of God. That is what the ashram provides.
The Swami repeatedly stressed the necessity and value of satsanga, When a disciple approached him and said . “Swami, I have put in my best efforts; but I have not been able to attain chitta suddhi (purity of mind)”. The Swami answered: “The only cure for this is sat sanga. All your kalankas, blemishes, will vanish if you resort to sat sanga.”
It is difficult for “lay people amidst the turmoil of their daily lives, to realize the eternal ananda of
akhandakara Brahman, by means of philosophical reflection and self inquiry. The Swami, in his compassion for his devotees, trained them individually, each according to his receptivity and spiritual evolution. The mind and its impurities are big obstacles in the way of self-realization. “Among the five sense organs” says the Swami, “it is the mind that controls the sense organs and the’ body and makes them obey its commands. Even as messages are transmitted by means of a telephone, the mind transmits messages to all parts of the body and makes them function. A pure mind purifies the vehicles of perception.
Vasanakshaya (removal of latent desires) and Manonasa (extinction of the mind) along with Gnosis are the three concomitants of the spiritual discipline.
SWAMI Sri Gnananandagiri sends his blessings to the beloved devotee. Swami is in good health and wishes to hear the same from you.
Besides paying attention to the essential facilities and requirements for your living, let your mind turn
actively to spiritual matters. There is no need for you to pay attention to worldly affairs including matters
affecting your village.
Your most important objective is to realise the Atman within. The means to attain it are chanting of the
names of God and self-control, that is the control of the activities of the five senses and of the mind, and
meditation. If you observe each thought as it arises in the mind and subside in its Source, the mind will come under control and will become quiet. It is the duty of ideal men to live with mind restrained in this manner.
What is it that you should attain and where is It? (As you practise control of the mind as stated above), you
should turn your attention to the Source itself from which thoughts arise and practise fixing your mind there (that is to say, to bring the mind back to the point of concentration, Whenever it is distracted, reduce progressively the frequency of such interruptions and focus the mind on the Source). This practice is called (in yoga terminology) “Dharana” or “Sthambanam” or concentration. Gradually the distractions will be eliminated completely and the mind will stay fixed at one point (i.e., flow uninterruptedly towards the object of meditation viz., the Source of thought). When this is accomplished and it extends continuously or unbrokenly, it is called “Dhyana” or contemplation. When the practice becomes perfect (and reaches its culmination when the mind is transcended, i.e., its subjective nature or self awareness disappears as it were, and the subject- object relationship dissolves resulting in their fusion in Consciousness, whose content now is only the Source which is the object of meditation), it is called “Samadhi”, Everyone should adopt this discipline of Samadhi Yoga (if spiritual progress is to be achieved). May you realise (in this way) the Supreme Being who is called “That” (in the Vedanta texts) which is Pure Awareness (“Arivadu adai arivayaha”). The goal of human birth is to realise this Most High who is inside the body. Do not waste even a moment of your days, but devote all the time to the enquiry “Who am I?” and in this way realise Him.
(What is the nature of this enquiry?) It is to realise “I am not the body, nor the Pranas (life breath), nor
mind, Buddhi and other internal organs”. Intuition of that Knowledge. (Pure Consciousness) which is the
Witness of even Buddhi (the discriminative and deciding faculty), that exists beyond the knowledge obtained through the five senses with which we cognise the physical world) is Absolute Bliss. That is the Supreme’ Being. May you realise It!
May you become that Supreme Bliss Itself of which the Tamil poet saint Thayumanavar sings!
“Oh! Effulgent Bliss! Thou art that Absolute Knowledge which is the God-head enshrined in my heart!” How exhilarating is the prospect (of that goal)! If you remain in that state, people will greet you as
“Akhandanandan” the enjoyer of uninterrupted Bliss. For attaining that stage, the Grace and blessings of the Sadguru (which are essential) are showered on you through this letter. All other pursuits are empty and futile. May you attain this goal of life!
After realising It and staying in that (liberated) state, may you inspire, guide and bless other seekers! Do
not spend your time in vain. Do not indulge in loosely talking about “That” which you have not realised,
thereby wasting your time and doing disservice to others. Realise the true meaning of “I” and “Thou”. (To the Gnani who has attained the state of non-duality, the distinction vanishes). Approach men of real wisdom and learn all other things. Such men are those who after acquiring from the study of books that knowledge which is necessary, would have realised “That” which has to be realised and would be staying as the Truth itself in a state of untrammelled Bliss. There is no need to wander from place to place to obtain knowledge. He alone is the Seer who by self-enquiry has realised the Atman. Others are only mere prattlers possessed by the devil and wandering about. May you be an ideal man! My Blessings to you!
A person who wishes to scale the summit must indeed climb his way up step by step. Gnana or Self-realization is the final culmination of yoga and is not independent of it.
One is bewildered by the variety of goods that are spread out for sale in a market. A man must decide what he ought to buy from the market and acquire the means for buying it. In the art of living, a man must first choose his goal and set about to reach it.
Even as a farmer who wants to reap a rich harvest must toil hard, plough the hard soil, make it soft before the seeds are sown, protect the young crops from extraneous growth of weeds and keep off the cattle, a spiritual seeker who aspires to the summum bonum of life — God-realization — must seek the company of God’s chosen seers, listen carefully to their advice and tread the path shown by them. There is no short-cut to Self-realization. It is difficult to conceive the reality of the Atma in the consciousness of one’s mind even as it is to see a shadow in a dream state.
A man cannot become rich overnight. It is only by ceaseless efforts over the years that he can save up money which will make him rich. Even so, a spiritual aspirant must struggle hard and unremittingly to attain to the highest abode of the Kingdom of God. One must set sail when the wind is favourable.
If one were to ask how long should one engage in sadhana, the answer is through as many human lives as have gone by in unrelieved ignorance of the reality of Being. But with this difference, that these lives are fashioned in a way which is conducive to a divine life which comes about by cleansing oneself of the three impurities and living beyond the clutches of the two pronged karma. In this state which lasts through countless lives, a sadhaka would be the recipient of divine Grace and in course of time realize his real nature and attain eternal bliss.
Sri Thandavaraya Swami says that it takes as many years of practice of living in an inward looking state, as one has lived-in an outward looking state.
To the degree that you turn away from attachments to the unreal your inner vision of Reality develops. If by a steady practice of this kind the mind comes under control and becomes aware as consciousness — Self — you can abide as the Ocean of Bliss though living in the bitter body.
The effulgence and glory of the sun is hidden from a blind man. Identifying the body with the soul leads to spiritual blindness and shuts one’s vision from the radiance of the soul.
It is not possible to separate the shell, flesh and the seed of an unripe tamarind. But when it is ripe, the flesh can be easily separated from the shell and the seed from the flesh. This phenomenon underscores an essential truth in that to those who are afflicted by agnana, the body and the atma appear to be one; but when they gain true knowledge or gnana they would realize that they are not the body but the Self-within and thereby live in eternal bliss.
Take a coconut. This is covered by dense coir strands and a hard shell. If you remove the coir strands and break the shell you witness a white limitless space. The enjoyment you feel in the limitless is akin to breaking a coconut. If you remove the dense coir which may be likened to Maya and intuit the Reality enclosed by the shell (the body), you will witness the Atma Swarupa (the Reality) and rejoice in it. Camphor when lighted casts a radiance all around but is itself consumed completely leaving no trace of it behind.
Even so, is the nature of the mind which witnesses the effulgence spreading before it. To actualise the effulgence is gnana.
A man caught in a great flood would either like to reach the banks or swim along with the swift current. If he tries to stand still in the midst of the flood, people will think he is out of his mind. Even so, one must have a goal in life to the attainment of which one must strive. There are three impurities attaching to a man’s life.
These have their source in the body, world and the life principle. That which attaches to the body is ‘Kama’, while that which attaches to the world is ‘Maya’ and the third which attaches to the life principle is ‘Ahankara’. One must cleanse oneself of these impurities. This is the chief merit in human life.
Unalloyed gold is recovered from the dross with which it is mixed by repeatedly melting it in a crucible. One who wants to see God must be patient, loving, tender of heart, practise charity, think lofty thoughts, cease making disparaging remarks about others, be of loving service to the Guru and give oneself to Atma Vichara.
Lust and anger are insuperable impediments to spiritual realization and afflict a spiritual seeker as leprosy, on the body. Those who have fallen a prey to the twin unmitigated evils are legion.
Many people think that to perform tapas one must wear a saffron robe and retire to a forest and subsist there on fruits and leaves of trees. But tapas can also be encompassed by holding steadfast, in the-midst of pain and suffering and by protecting all sentient beings from harm.
Pain and insult only touch the body and not the life within. The swarupa of life is Brahmanandam. Even as the vast sky is not caught up in the swirling dust below, we are not touched by pain or insult.
The rose is beautiful, fragrant and very soft to the touch. Everyone is fond of a rose because of the qualities it possesses. But the rose itself is surrounded by thorns. Even as one plucks the rose by carefully removing the thorns, one must learn to meet the trials and tribulations of the earthly existence with patience, and worship God with unflagging faith and conviction.
We should do our duty with an inner conviction that we are only instruments and not the doer nor the person who induces another to act.
Do not delude yourself into thinking that you are the doer. We must firmly believe that we in the world are the instruments of the Lord. It is only after taking many births that the Jiva which turns into pure gold by sadhana, comprehends its real nature and the truth that the universe is a phantasm. It is only when a child gains admission to a class in a school that it can progress towards graduation. Even if he abandons school in the middle, he can resume study at any time. This is what is conveyed by the phrase in the Gita “Yoga brashtah Abhijayate – (Chapter 6, verse 41”). The sage Suka, prays of the Lord, “Lord, please grant that I always remember you wherever I may be born”. When he took birth again he was born as Saint Kabir. Jeevan Muktas are born in this world for Loka Sangraha, to redeem humanity.
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.