Last evening around 10 pm I felt a tad diminished as a humanist on learning from TV about the passing away of Sri Siddeshwara Swamiji of Jnanayogashram, Vijayapura (formerly Bijapur). Though Swamiji had passed away at 6.05 pm it was officially announced only at around 10 pm. And for good reasons. The funeral arrangements were befitting the person of Swamiji’s stature as a scholar, teacher-saint of the rarest of the rare kind I have seen and heard.
The organisers expected lakhs of devotees and admirers to congregate to pay their last respects to the Swamiji and they have so perfectly, with clock work precision, put every step of the funeral in place in a way most appropriate for the departed Swamiji. The organisers, from the Deputy Commissioner, the Ashram Management and, surprisingly, usually obstructionist, argumentative, political leaders of different political parties, deserve the compliments for their efforts and competence in holding an orderly, peaceful funeral.
Swamiji’s passing away reminds me of the aphorism in Kannada ‘Sharanarannu maranadalli nodu’ (ಶರಣರನ್ನು ಮರಣದಲ್ಲಿ ನೋಡು). Find a true saint in his death. So it was in the death of Sri Siddeshwara Swamiji.
In the past, our Suttur Mutt Seer Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Swamiji used to inform me occasionally whenever there was a spiritual discourse by well-known persons or saints. It was how I first met Sri Siddeshwara Swamijii many years back. I was mesmerised by his discourse delivered in a meditative mind, in a feeble voice, impassive visage and with absolutely no body-language! Yet he captured the attention of his huge congregation who listened to him in absolute silence. Seemed, he held his listeners in a spell like a hypnotist. And what a discourse! Each theme delineated with parables or anecdotes to make the lay members of the congregation understand the subject he was dealing with.
Since about a year, I occasionally listen to his discourse on YouTube using the cell phone at bed time. That is my way of going to bed with good thoughts! Words spoken by some saints have magic, mystery and mesmerising power because of the spiritual stream.
I have experienced this while listening to Osho Rajneesh. That is because he was not stuck with one religion, one book or one people. He took into his spiritual serenade all the religions, all the books and all the people of the world. He embraced all the people of the world. He spoke of the brotherhood of mankind. He made no distinction. So also Sri Siddeshwara Swamiji. He was a Philospher-Saint in the mould of Osho Rajneesh and Swami Vivekananda. His scholarship deep and profound covering veda, upanishad, epics, other world religions and, of course, the Greek philosophers. No wonder his discourses invariably had one or more parables that Buddha and later Jesus made popular. A polyglot, he knew five languages — Kannada, English, Hindi, Marathi and Sanskrit. Apparently he could delve into the religious text of these languages too to enrich his spiritual treasure chest which he shared with his devotees during the discourse.
Interestingly, for a Swamiji of a designated religious Ashram (Mutt), he was exceptionally different and distinguished. While all other heads of these Ashrams (Mutts) are seen wearing the ochre or kavi or saffron clothes, Sri Siddeshwara Swamiji preferred plain white jubba and dhoti. And the TV report said his jubba did not have pockets! Well, after all ‘pocket’ suggests money and he is after his mission of spirituality not money.
Here Sri Siddeshwara Swamiji stands in sharp contrast to Osho Rajneesh who indulged in luxurious life of wearing expensive, designer clothes and more. But he had a reason that was explained in his own style.
However, Osho Rajneesh was emphatic, in the later years, that his followers could get rid of their standard ochre robes and wear clothes of their choice. ‘Clothes do not make a Sanyasi. It is the inner self. You can wear the ochre-robe and yet lead a non-Sanyasi life or wear any attire of your choice and still lead a life of a Sanyasi,’ he would say.
The most revered Sri Siddeshwara Swamiji wore the attire of a common man and yet lived the life of a Sanyasi of an extraordinary quality and grace.
Having seen him and heard number of his discourses, I was not surprised to hear what he had written in his last testament about how his mortal remains should be disposed. He wanted his body to be cremated, though burial is the tradition of his religious order. Religious rituals not necessary. Ashes, after the cremation, be submerged in rivers or the sea. Do not build a tomb or memorial.
His last message in the testament is of a great thinker, philosopher and an enlightened person written, in Kannada alliteratively, like a poet:
ಸತ್ಯವೂ ಇಲ್ಲ, ಆಸತ್ಯವೂ ಇಲ್ಲ.
ಸಹಜವೂ ಇಲ್ಲ, ಅಸಹಜವೂ ಇಲ್ಲ.
ನಾನೂ ಇಲ್ಲ, ನೀನೂ ಇಲ್ಲ.
ಇಲ್ಲ, ಇಲ್ಲ ಎಂಬುದು ತಾನಿಲ್ಲ.
ಗುಹೇಶ್ವರನೆಂಬುದು ತಾ ಬಯಲು?
Let me translate into English in a general way:
There is no Truth, nor Untruth
There is nothing normal or abnormal
There is no self, nor you.
NO. The word no itself is not there.
It is said ‘soldiers never die, they fade away.’ I think, so also Sanyasis too never die, they fade away. Our great master Sri Siddeshwara Swamiji too has faded into eternity leaving his spiritual glow upon us to continue our journey in this world. My pranams to the great soul.
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