A living embodiment of Vedanta: Swami Turiyananda
When Swami Vivekananda was introducing him to people in America, he said, "I have lectured to you on Vedanta; in Turiyananda you will see Vedanta personified. He lives it every moment of his life. He is the ideal Hindu monk, and he will help you all to live pure and holy lives"
Swami Turiyananda said-
Swamiji asked me before he sent me here: Can you lecture like I have done? I said: Of course not, Swamiji, what are you saying? Well then, he said, do not trouble yourself about lecturing. You just live the life. Be an example to them. Let them see how Sannyasins live! So, you see, I am only obeying Swamiji.
When he first came to the United States, someone who met him commented that he seemed to have an inexhaustible storehouse of wisdom. In response he said very simply, "You see, I have lived this life from my youth; it has become part and parcel of me. And the Divine Mother keeps the supply filled up. Her store can never be exhausted. What goes out, she at once fills up again."
Swami Turiyananda was a knower of Brahman of the highest order, a jivanmuktaone who, according to Vedanta, having transcended body consciousness, is free while living and is immersed in the Atman. The swami was steeped in the study of Vedantic scriptures; from a young age he was drawn to study and meditation. To give an idea of the depth of his scholarship: he memorized the Durga Saptashati, which contains seven hundred mantras in praise of the Divine Mother, the entire Bhagavadgita, Shankara's Vivekachudamani, and many of the Upanishads, to name just a few texts, in addition to many of the teachings of Tulsidas, Surdas, Ramprasad, Hafiz, and Kabir. He also studied a great many devotional scriptures, like Bhakti Sutra, Bhagavata, and many of the other Puranas, as well as Yoga Sutra and Yogavasishtha Ramayana.
Short Life Of Swami Turiyananda
Born in a well-to-do family, Hari lost his parents in boyhood and grew up under the care of his eldest brother. After passing the school final examination he did not go to college. Instead, he devoted his time to meditation and the study of Sankara's Advaita Vedanta. When he was about 17 years old he visited Sri Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar for the first time, and after that he started going to the Master frequently. The Master regarded him as a yogi. Hari was a member of the team of youngsters who served Sri Ramakrishna during his last illness at Cossipore. After the Master's passing, Hari joined Baranagar Math and underwent sannyasa ordination assuming the name Turiyananda. After three years he left the monastery and spent his time doing tapasya at different places, sometimes alone, sometimes in the company of his brother monks. When Swami Vivekananda went to the West for the second time, he took Swami Turiyananda with him. When Swamiji went back to India, Turiyananda continued his work first in New York and Boston and later in California. However, his health deteriorated and he left America in June 1902. On his arrival in India, he was shocked to hear of the passing of Swami Vivekananda. Turiyananda spent the next several years practicing intense contemplation in Vrindavan, in different places in the Himalayas, in Dehra Dun, Kankhal, Almora, etc. He finally settled down in Varanasi in February 1919. During the last few years he suffered much from diabetes. He passed away on 21 July 1922 repeating Upanishadic Mantras.
Swami Turiyananda On Bhagvad Gita
These words are not a poet's imagination, nor a slogan, but the words of God
According to Swami Turiyananda, the heart of the Gita is : self-surrender and self-exertion. These encompass the main practices outlined in the Gita. such as renunciation, offering everything to God, the practice of svadharma with non-attachment, and effacement of egoall of which lead to real self-surrender. By leading a God-centred life, the small self is transformed into our true Self. This is the goal of spiritual life expressed variously in the Gita as Self-knowledge, God-realization, union with God, or attainment of peace.
Teachings of Swami Turiyananda
- Never pride yourself in your having gained control over the passions. If you do, they will at once raise their heads. Ever pray to him, O Lord, save me from them.
- Nothing short of complete self-surrender to Him will do. You call Him the Inner controller (Antaryamin), omniscient, omnipresent, and yet you are afraid to surrender yourself to Him!
- Never expect anything from anyone. But always give. Otherwise a sense of dryness will overtake you. But you must not give your mind to anyone. That you must give only to God.
Guru is the physician
Swami Turiyananda never hesitated to correct the shortcomings of his students in a bold and straightforward way, for which he was sometimes very much misunderstood. Once, observing their discontent, the Swami said, " Yes, you people in the West always try to cover up and hide your mistakes. But how can the wound be treated unless the bandages are removed? You hide your real character behind a smooth and polite exterior, but the sore festers in the heart. The guru is the physician, and once the disease is diagnosed he must not fear to apply the lancet, if necessary. Sometimes a deep clean incision is the only remedy. You are so sensitive, always afraid of being scolded or exposed. When I flatter a little, you say, 'Swami is so wonderful,' but when I utter a harsh word you run away."