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SWAMI NIRMALANANDA
HIS LIFE AND TEACHINGS

CHAPTER XXIII

THE FIRE OF SANYASA LIGHTED IN KERALA

Swamiji's thoughts now turned to the young men who had of their own accord left their homes and taken shelter at his feet. They had worked hard and served the cause all these years. Several of them desired to take up Sanyasa formally. The practice till then was for the President of the Belur Mutt to give Mantra-Deeksha or Sanyasa. While the President Maharaj, Swami Brahmanandaji was in Bangalore last time he had told the Swami that devotees need not be sent up to him for initiation, and that the Swami himself might give it. To take upon one's shoulders the whole life burden, the aggregate of the age-long karmas of another was a responsibility at which several perfected ones shuddered and which they quietly shirked or tried to avoid. It is well known how Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna himself had to suffer for taking up the responsibilities of many, how some of his immediate disciples were reluctant to initiate disciples and how discriminative they were in their choice of disciples. But to the large loving heart of Swamiji any such feeling was foreign and repugnant. It knew no fear either in this world or the next. He, the free, was commissioned to go from place to place and help all out of darkness. And here were his own children who had clung to him forgetting themselves from the very beginning. He decided to take all their burden upon himself, to give them Sanyasa. They may have many faults and weaknesses. No such thought or vision deterred him from following his own path. He may have to suffer the consequences, what of that? Was he not the true son and follower of Him who bore the Cross for the sake of man?

On the 22nd of December 1923 were gathered eleven Brahmacharins at the Aahrama at Haripad. The occasion was unique. That was the first house of God in Kerala where God's children could feel themselves perfectly at home, free from the shackles of social customs, where they could mix with one another in joy and fearlessness; that was the first occasion when, in the history of all Kerala, birth did not debar a man from entering the freedom of the last Ashrama of life; that was the first occasion again when a child of the Prince of Tyagis lit the literal fire of renunciation in Kerala when the perfected one spoke of his own state and experience.

To raise their minds to a higher level, to make them fully conscious of the greatness oi the step they were going to take, the Swami asked the Brahmacharins to speak on Sanyasa. After they had spoken, Swamiji who was in an exalted mood spoke a few burning words. "Real Sanyasa is not giving up, it is taking in. Instead of a few acres of land and other finite things, the Sanyasin takes the whole universe as his heritage. He who was the son of man becomes the child of God. In exchange for a small family of men, he gets the entire creation as his relations. It is not also a flying away from misery. That befits only a coward. It is daring to see God and Bliss in everything. The Sanyasin gets the vision of God and lives in perpetual joy, conveying peace and happiness to all."

In the auspicious Brahma Muhurta, the next day, the eleven Brahmacharins duly performed the Viraja Homa under the directions of the Swamiji and took the vow of Sanyasa according to Vedic rites; they were given Kashaya robes and new names by Swamiji. They are: Swamis Chitsukhananda; Nirvikarananda; Niranjanananda; Sekharananda; Chidambarananda; Naishtikananda; Chitprabhananda; Chitbhasananda; Subbrananda; Vageeswarananda; and Dheeswarananda. After, the ceremony was over Swamiji said to a visitor devotee "I have merely entrusted them to Sri Gurumaharaj. They have been dedicated to him. I have no more concern with them. Sri Gurumaharaj will lead them." How true! Again he said 'I am a mere tool'. Regarding his teaching work he used to say; 'I am a mere gramaphone, reproducing the ideas of great minds. Swami Vivekananda was the great pipe through which the ideas of Sri Gurumaharaj flowed. We are all small pipes fitted for the same purpose.'

After the initiation some of the disciples were discussing as to how the new Sanyasins were to live in the world. Swamiji overheard them and said: "Be like the postmen. Haven't you seen the postman delivering letters? The letters may be very important, but the post man who delivers them is not considered an important person. You are to deliver the ideas of Gurumaharaj and Swamiji. Be their postmen, give out the ideas, not as teachers but as delivery peons.'

Regarding food he said, let what you take be anything. If you use your energy for good purposes, your food will become satwic. Otherwise even good food becomes tamasic.

Swamiji left Kerala for Bangalore via Coonoor. This time also he visited all the Kerala centres. In Bangalore he gave Sanyasa to two Brahmacharins and named them Deshikananda and Shambhavananda.