Sri Jethamalji, pandit of Hiyadesar in the district of Bikaner, Rajasthan, had a son by the name of Ganeshmal who was attracted to the spiritual way of life. From early childhood the boy felt drawn to God. His special love was the spiritual songs, bhajans and kirtans and whenever swamis and sadhus passed through the area, he would go and listen to their satsang. To better understand spiritual literature he decided to study Sanskrit and soon Mastered this beautiful and difficult language.
When Ganeshmal was a little older, he met some wandering yogis and from them learned hatha yoga kriyas, which he practised conscientiously. He then began to live as Brahmacharya, or ascetic and studied the holy texts of The Bhagavad Gita, The Ramayana and The Upanishads. He used to sing bhajans in a sweet and melodious voice and his satsangs would attract numerous people.
One peculiarity he had was the strict observance of certain Vedic regulations where he only ate food prepared by himself. It is said in the scriptures that serious spiritual aspirants should only eat sattvic food, that is, food which has no negative reaction on the body, mind or consciousness. By avoiding certain foods, one experiences an increase in calmness and tranquillity, improved harmony between body and mind and a diminution of desires, laziness and animosity.
The person cooking the food is also of great importance because one should cook with great love, repeating a prayer or mantra and concentrating on the thought that one is cooking for God. Then the food becomes holy prasad and transmits love to those who eat it.
If one eats prepackaged and precooked foods, one cannot know who has prepared it and in most restaurants, financial profit is the motive with which the food is prepared. Even in private homes the cook does not necessarily cook with love. But like anything else, these precautions with food can be carried to extremes and Ganeshmalji was certainly guilty of an exaggerated fussiness about what he ate.
Ganeshmalji had many positive characteristics, though. He was intelligent and quick-witted and used to enjoy conversing with scholars. He impressed all with his erudition and could easily win most debates with his nimble mind and eloquence. Finally, through these gifts and talents, he fell into the trap of ego and began arguing and challenging scholars only for intellectual pleasure and with the sole intention of emerging victorious. He also possessed an exceptional hypnotic power, like that of Gumanaram or the snake charmer, with which he could make people unconscious. Through the misuse of these abilities he managed to injure many people and inflict grave injustices.
Ganeshmalji also made the common error of blaming his increasing feelings of emptiness on the era in which he lived, that is, kali yuga. He believed that in this age there were no more real Gurus or yogis. Nevertheless he maintained his devotion to Lord Krishna and often wept in secret at his separation from God as one spouse weeps for the other who is gone.
One day he was resting under a tree in one of the little groves that grow between the villages in Rajasthan and there he dreamed that Lord Krishna stood before him holding a book in his hand and saying, "The author of this book is an incarnation of me."
In the dream, Ganeshmal could see the book's title, Sri Deep Puri Anubhava Prakash (The Light of Experience), by Deep Puri, or Mahaprabhuji.
On waking he sat thinking, trying to make sense of the strange dream. He knew that dreams are often only fantasies but, on the other hand, they can also contain deep meaning and truth. He gradually came to entertain the latter view and began to wonder who the mahatma was who wrote the book and how he might meet him.
"I will keep my eyes open and if I should meet this man I shall carefully test him with my intellect and powers lest I be deceived," he finally decided.
But time passed and Ganeshmalji soon forgot about his extraordinary dream and continued his life as before.
Ganeshmalji had relatives in the Pali district in the village of Pilauni and he went there on one occasion to pay them a visit. At that time Mahaprabhuji was staying in Shivbagh Ashram in Bola Guda, which was only about ten kilometres away. By chance, Ganeshmalji met one of Mahaprabhuji's disciples in Pilauni and, while in their home, he idly browsed through their bookshelves. Suddenly he read the title, Sri Deep Puri Anubhava Prakash and it seemed oddly familiar.
He asked his host about the author of the book and this was the answer.
"The author is Mahaprabhuji, our blessed Guru, a supreme Master and Incarnation of Light. You can meet him if you like, for he is just now staying in an ashram not far from here."
All at once Ganeshmalji remembered his dream and he could hardly wait to meet Mahaprabhuji. As was his habit, he began preparing questions and arguments to test the Guru's intellect but not before he had used his hypnotic power on him. With a group of others he soon set out for Shivbagh Ashram.
When they arrived, Mahaprabhuji was sitting among his followers and Ganeshmalji, neglecting all customary forms of polite greeting, planted himself before Mahaprabhuji and fixed the Saint with his most intensive hypnotic stare.
Mahaprabhuji's gracious smile did not flicker.
"Your ignorance masks quite formidable gifts, my son," he murmured.
Mahaprabhuji returned Ganeshmal's look. Ganeshmal's power was reflected upon himself and he slithered to the ground, quite unconscious of the external world. The onlookers drew back in surprise, some afraid that Mahaprabhuji had also used magic powers, but naturally this was not so. Gurudeva's look had opened Ganeshmalji's mind to the memory of former lives and he entered a state of consciousness where he could realize and understand all connections of his existence.
On opening his eyes, he bowed low before Bhagwan Sri Deep Narayan Mahaprabhuji and said, "Lord, in my former life I met you as Lord Krishna and today all my dreams have come true!"
He then began to sing:
HARI GURU MILIYA THA PURABA ME
I have met this Divine Master in previous times
But I didn't recognise him,
Full of problems, I was asleep in ignorance.
I didn't know that today I would meet God,
How could I see him coming
When my inner Self was not clean?
It was full of sin, deluded, preoccupied.
O Lord, the ocean of problems is deep — let me cross!
O Lord, through many births have I wandered
But now the Lord has called me with So Ham,
Merciful Prabhu Deep has accepted me into his kingdom.
Through loving him I have become one with him,
Brahmananda says: Now I am a realized being and will come no more to birth.
Mahaprabhuji touched his arm.
"Get up, my dear son and don't lament what is past. You are a part of my inner Brahma and so from today on, you will be known as Sri Swami Brahmananda."
The newly initiated swami raised his sweet voice in prayer:
OM NAMO GURU DEEP AVINASI
I salute you, OM, immortal Guru Deep!
You are Brahma, you are Vishnu, you are Shiva,
You are Narada!
You are the meditator, the wise, the Light of Yoga,
You are the liberated one, the Omnipresent,
You have the knowledge of the Vedas,
You are the preacher of the Truth
And the knower of the Divine Name,
I salute you, Divine Master, Guru Deep!
Your place is forever in my heart and consciousness.
Mahaprabhuji was pleased by this lovely prayer and he made a prediction.
"My son Brahmananda, you will be famous as the Master of Music (Sangitacharya). Among thousands of singers you will be the best! No one will be able to resist your song. Even the hardest hearts you will melt in infinite bliss!"
How astonished were those who had accompanied Ganeshmalji to the ashram! They praised his good karma that had allowed the Divine power to awaken in him so suddenly.
Ganeshmalji sang another bhajan:
ME SARANAGATA HUN GURUDEVA
Gurudeva, I bow before you,
You showed me your true pure form and perfect Light,
You are pure consciousness, before which
Calling your name dispels difficulties and obstacles,
The sun of eternal knowledge rises in your presence,
He who meditates on you will be freed from ignorance
And will attain bliss.
Ganeshmalji, now Sri Swami Brahmananda, stayed with Mahaprabhuji. He had entirely lost the urge for intellectualising and for destructive criticism. He no longer quarrelled and there was an end to his egotism. He even gave up his insistence on self-cooked food, living simply and humbly in perfect contentment and in constant intoxication of bliss.
His relatives thought that the change which had come over him was most sudden and peculiar and so he explained it with the following song:
PREM KA BAN MERE SATAGURU DINA HE
My Satguru shot the arrow of love,
Through his words the hidden gold-mine of knowledge opened
And I realized the treasure of my true Self,
Now I am filled with immovable bliss and harmony,
I am dwelling in the sphere of fearlessness,
The light of Brahman was laid into my heart
And thus I gained self realization.
Filled with light, freed from duality
Now my inner Self is dyed the colour of Satguru
And Prabhu Deep Dayal,
How happy Brahmananda is that he has
The question of how it was possible for him to compose and sing his bhajans at the same time he answered also with a bhajan:
ESA MERA SATAGURU ANDARA BOLE
It is my Satguru who speaks through me,
He who is without form, immortal and
Who banishes all doubts.
He who is eternal, immovable, his grace is limitless,
One who meditates on him day and night,
Whoever observes Mauna and concentrates on
They realize their Self in him,
The Omnipresent, perfect, pure Divine Light —
infinite like the ocean,
His temple is in your heart and there you can hear his voice.
Through the merging of Prana and Apana
Everlasting peace and perfection is achieved,
OM rings out from the Manipur Chakra
And So Ham becomes one with the breath,
In Sunyakash you see the Supreme,
There where the rivers merge you attain the unattainable
And become Master of your Self.
Swami Brahmananda says, I met the perfect Satguru,
Mahaprabhu Deep, through his grace I experienced the highest bliss.
In this way, Swami Brahmananda explained that his gifts and talents came from the blessing of Gurudeva.
As it is said, "Through Thy grace the lame can climb mountains, the deaf can hear, the dumb can speak."
The temple of Gurudeva is in the heart chakra and this opens through the grace of the Guru. One who has truly recognised the Guru as dwelling in his heart has entered upon the path of perfection. Awakening and activating the other chakras results in higher states of consciousness.
But of the thousands who know the Satguru, only a few really recognise him, really know him as that One dwelling in their hearts.
"Where is the true Guru?" many ask. "Where can he be found?"
Swami Brahmananda's answer is this:
SADHO BHAI MERA SATAGURU MUJ MAHI
Brothers, my Guru is within me!
He is all-pervasive, what else do you want to know?
He is Omnipresent like the sky, he is perfect purity
But without devotion you will miss him,
What more shall I explain?
Knowledge from books is limited
But the Satguru is immortal wisdom —
This is explained in the Gita,
Brahmananda says: Reverence to my Gurudev
Sri Deep Dayal.
Sri Swami Brahmanandji's bhajans are collected in a book called Brahmananda Vani Prakash (The Light of Brahmananda's Words). At the end of his life he had foreknowledge of his death and entered the mahasamadhi of immortality. His name is a light that will always shine on this earth, like the sun and the moon.
hatha yoga kriyas = specialized yoga techniques allowing the student to achieve an ever-increasing identity with cosmic consciousness
Sattvic means pure foods such as grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, milk and milk products, honey, herbs and mild spices. It is recommended to avoid meat, eggs, alcohol, strong coffee, black tea, chemically preserved and denatured foods and re-heated food.
prasad = food offered to God for His blessing
mauna = observance of silence
Next Chapter: Mahamandaleshwar Sri Swami Lalananda Puri
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Overview: Disciples of Sri Mahaprabhuji