Those were my poorva centrea days. I was then doing M.Sc. in Physics and my only motive was to join an centre. The then Manager of Sandeepany Sadhanalaya, Powai, had also just come to lecture at Bhopal. He said that there were plans to start a new Brahmachari training course at the centre in 1970. Thus, I came to the centre. During those days, Gurudev had a heart attack, at Mysore and he was recuperating at Usha Kiran. Gurudev asked me to stay at the centre for some time and that when he became okay, the course would be started.
My second meeting with Gurudev was at the centre itself. Gurudev was going to Switzerland for treatment. Before that he stayed at the centre for 15 days. Shivram and Narain, the people taking care of Gurudev, had gone home. I was asked to sleep in the office room and sweep the floor and keep the room clean every morning. This was my chance to really meet Gurudev and I was eagerly looking forward to It. Many people used to come to have satsang with Swamijl. I used to just sit and wait. He never used to talk to me. Everyday devotees offered bhiksha to Gurudev. And I had still not mustered enough courage to even talk to him. On the penultimate day of his leaving for Switzerland I decided that I must speak to him. It was 11 p.m. Gurudev was about to retire to his room. He was just about to lock the door when I said “Swamijj !” “Yes?” said Gurudev. I didn’t know what to say but I had to keep the conversation on, so I said, “I was reading a book and a question came to my mind.”
“What?” he replied. “Anyway, you have come here to study so there Is no need to ask questions. After the Switzerland trip I will be going to Uttarkashi and the I’ll take you there with me. ”
When Swamiji returned from his tour he stayed at the centre for a few days but said nothing about my going to Uttarkashi. I was worried. So I asked an Amma to ask Gurudev about It. She told me that Gurudev had asked me to come along with Dr. Nichani. After that he asked me directly, “Have you got woollen clothes?” I shook my head. He then went Into his room and got a shawl and a sweater and gave them to me. Somehow, we reached Uttarkashi late In the night and stayed there for three and a half months during which time I was put In charge of the books. I would iron Gurudev’s clothes every morning. This was my chance to serve Him and I relished every moment of it.
Another interesting anecdote is my Brahmachari Deeksha. I had completed 1 1/2 years at the centre. It was the eve of Shivratri. Gurudev asked the manager to keep yellow robes ready. On the Shivratrl day, he told him, “Call that Kutti.” (Kutti, In Malayalam, means small boy) and asked me, “You know the Gayatri – Chant it regularly.” I was already wearing yellow clothes even when Swamiji came to give lectures. On the other hand, Shivram said that yellow clothes were not available. So Gurudev gave me his own ochre robes. I was nonplussed and didn’t know what to do. Wear them or not wear them? I asked my Acharyaji as to what I should do. Swamiij replied, “If he has given them, you keep them”. Next day, on seeing that I had not worn the ochre robes Gurudev asked me, “Not wearing them? But then, are they too long?”
I was In a real fix, so I went back to Acharyaji and told him everything. He simply said, “If he says wear them then wear them.” Gurudev has given me his clothes four to five times. No one has had that privilege and I am indeed blessed by his divine grace.
In 1982 on Buddha Purnima, I was conferred the Sanyaas Deeksha by Gurudev at Sidhabari. Gurudev asked me to choose any name I would like.. “Tejomaya comes to my mind,” said he. I took on the name Tejomayananda because they were uttered by Gurudev himself.
Another striking incident took place when Gurudev had gone to Uttarkashi and I was at Allahabad. Gurudev called me to Uttarkashi to take Sanskrit classes there. I was to go back to Allahabad to conduct a yagna there. Gurudev said – stay back. So I sent a telegram to cancel the yagna and stayed with Gurudev. He took me along with himself to Pilani and remarked, “Next year you can also come here and give talks on our heritage, etc”. From there we were to go to Delhi and then to Hardwar with Smt. Kamla Chanral and Dr. Sundaram.
Once we reached Hardwar Gurudev said, “I am staying back.” Smt. Kamla Chanrai and Dr. Sundaram left for their own destinations because of their own engagements. I was now alone with Gurudev and this was the most unforgettable incident of my life. That evening at Sadhubela, Gurudev said, “Let’s go for a bath at the Ganges.” I was afraid since I didn’t know how to swim. Gurudev asked me whether or not I knew how to swim. I replied in the negative. So Gurudev suggested that In that case I have bath only on the edges. In the night, after dinner, Gurudev questioned me as to where I stayed at Kanpur, how was the work progressing, and so on.
What Is most striking about Swami Chinmayanandaji is his love and compassion. He has been helping many people Individually. People used to say that Gurudev is like a father but I have seen that he has a motherly heart and Is very forgiving by nature.
Again, he so easily brings out the potential in you of which- you yourself may be quite unaware e.g. Gurudev asked me to take down notes. I was not used to writing notes. But Gurudev put me In charge of the Hindi Publications. I was made the secretary and was to get Gurudev’s books translated Into Hindi. He asked me also to translate some. Since he had asked me I made on attempt with the Mundokapanishad. That gave me courage and I set out to translate Gurudev’s commentary on the Bhagawad Gita which I completed In six months. Later on, came the other books.
Even poetry, I felt, was not In me. Some pundit had requested Gurudev to compose a Sanskrit poem on ‘Mother’. Gurudev asked me to take a try. I was doubtful. Shrl Ranganathan, standing next to me said, “Swamiji, I will try.” The spirit of competition arose. If he could do It so could 1. Since the poem was for children the meter would have to be small. Next day, Gurudev asked me, “Did you write anything?” I showed him the two – three shiokas that I had written. Gurudev said, “It is coming. Try, try.” Thus fifteen shiokas were composed of ‘Matru Stavana’.
Like all great masters, Gurudev also has a vision which Is being achieved slowly and slowly and the best way to aim for its fulfilment would be to work in such a way that inwardly, you get the unfoldment while outwardly, you serve the people.
It was in 1969 that Gurudev came to Bhopal. His next trip was In 1983. I was there with him taking the morning class while Gurudev took the evening session. I mentioned this fact to him that in 1969 I first attended his talks. Where I was and where I had reached. Gurudev said nothing. He just looked at me. In that pregnant silence I felt he had come just for me.
So many times have I had the blessed opportunities to talk from the same platform of Gurudev’s. What can I offer him In return? Whatever work he assigns to me, I do. We can only offer ourselves unto him. When we offer ourselves we have offered everything. Usually, It Is the other way round. We offer everything except ourselves. With this I surrender myself at His feet.