Thursday, March 17, 2011

Yogi legends: how to do what they did?! Part I

(Ramana Maharishi)
Jnana yogi Ramana Maharishi did not do penance by standing on one leg like a physically-inclined hatha yogi. Yet, it’s recorded he stoically underwent surgery on his arm for cancer without anesthesia. Such was the awe-inspiring strength of these god-realised yogic legends.


Other yogic icons too lived up the idealization invested on them by their disciples, displaying tremendous courage, humility and character. Swami Sivananda, despite attracting hordes of worshipful devotees, would focus on disarming skeptics to yoga, often by falling at their feet! There is the famous incident where he was attacked by a lunatic in his ashram during satsang. While his disciples disarmed the attacker whom the police imprisoned, Swamiji surprised everybody by landing up at the jail the next day with food and garland for the attacker, insisting that the police release him.


                                 (Swami Sivananda)
Their worldview was so different. While the gurus were strict with themselves, they displayed an almost guileless compassion towards the rest of the world. Advaita guru Adishankaracharya became a wandering monk while just eight, leaving behind his widowed mother.


                                         (Adi Shankaracharya)
Yet, he kept his promise, returning to her while she was on her death-bed. His return itself was miraculous, since in India of those days travel was tortuously slow as was communication. How did he know she was approaching death? He also displayed tremendous courage while doing this, since from an orthodox sannyasin such display of familial compassion too was a sin. Yet, all sadgurus appreciated that vairagya (or dispassion) that propelled them away from family ties was not antagonistic to compassion. Similarly, Ramana Maharishi is said to have sat unmoving as a youth while his mother wailed, trying emotional blackmail to lure him back home. Yet, towards her old age, while her need was real, he allowed her to settle down in his ashram. They had the courage to show that for them spiritualism never adhered to an orthodox format.

3 comments:

Anila said...

Shameem,
Do you know of the story by which Sri Shankara adopted Sanyasa?
Because Sri Shankara wanted to adopt sanyasa right from childhood,his mother could not accept it-as it would mean loss of her only son. One day, while taking bath in the periyar river, he was caught by a crocodile. His mother hearing his cries for help, came running -but could do nothing. He begged his mother to give him permission to become a sanyasi -so that he could at least die a sanyasi. His mother,in tears, gave him her consent. He chanted the prayers for his initiation and immediately the crocodile released him! It is a folklore and believed that it was Lord Shiva who came in the form of a crocodile so that his beloved devotee could achieve his wish of becoming a sanyasi.It was here that he promised his mother tht he would return at her deathbed.

taylor Lamb said...

I find this man very interesting in his yoga and stuff. I've studied him alot.

Shameem Akthar said...

Ya Anila. He was just 14 then I believe. The other story which used to be used to run down the caste system in india -- of how despite sannyasa and his belief in advaita (non-dualism) once he sees a wild looking man surrounded by dogs -- in the namboodari tradition where even the shadow of such a man must not fall on him, Shankaracharya indicates to the man to move out of his path. Then, the man asks him a pointed, riddling question about Advaita. Immediately Shankara realises that though he preached Advaita, his belief had not seeped into his soul. This is a moment of important revelation to him, as he realises that the man in front of him as Shiva. One of his powerful stotras is attributed to his encounter of Shiva in this fashion:)