Swami Tejomayananda is the former Head of Chinmaya Mission Worldwide, a position he held since 1993 after Swami Chinmayananda attained Mahasamadhi. If Swami Chinmayananda served the cause of Vedanta with his service, knowledge and pioneering qualities, Swami Tejomayananda – fondly addressed as Guruji – completed that with his natural attitude of devotion. This is richly and abundantly evident in his talks, his singing, and his demeanour.
But the gentleness of devotion arrived riding on the back of an intense education in physics, going up to a Master’s degree. Born, Sudhakar Kaitwade to a Maharashtrian family in Madhya Pradesh, this physicist had a close encounter that changed the velocity, direction and path of his life.
Chinmaya Aradhana Day 2006
Message from Pujya Swami Tejomayananda
August 3, 2006 in Allendale, MI
Our prostrations to Pujya Gurudev, the Virat Purusha of Chinmaya Mission. The centers in Australia and New Zealand are His feet, His head spans North America. The centers in India form His heart, others across the globe are His limbs. The Regional Heads are His crown, the Acharyas His eyes and ears. The Mission workers are His hands and legs, our children and youth the ornaments that adorn His person. The vedas are His speech. The multifarious activities of the Mission with its seva projects, Vidyalayas, ashrams, temples and research centers are His vital breath. The Chinmaya Mission is His Vibhuti, His glory. He pervades all this and extends beyond our comprehension. He is verily Brahman. Let us meditate on His cosmic form and realize our oneness with Him. Hari Om!
June 30, 2006 the Auspicious Birthday
by Swami Abhedananda
(reproduced from Tapovan Prasad – June 2006, Submitted by Vilasiniji)
The Lord manifests himself in the form of saints, who are nothing but an ever-blissful expression of the Lord’s own vibhuti in this ephemeral world of sorrows. Through a saint, the Lord effortlessly expresses His own svarupa (essential Self), svabhava (nature) and guna (qualities). Swami Akhandananda used to say that a Mahatma is the pragmatic form of Paramatma, and Brahman is the essential nature of a saint.
Vivekachudamani (verse 37) says:
Shaantaa mahaanto nivasanti santo, vasantavallokahitam carantah.
“There are peaceful and magnanimous saints, who live like the spring season for the good of humanity.”
Our Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda is the personification of this splendid glory of the Lord; he expresses Godliness and divinity in many spectacular ways. Blessed are those devotees and disciples who have lived and learnt from this revered master of the present age, who continue to serve and love him in many ways each day. Of course, most blessed are those who have identified with Guruji’s life principles and who are selflessly serving his motto of fulfilling Pujya Gurudev’s vision. It is said in Sri Ramcharitmanas that just as the mosquito cannot measure the infinite vastness of space, we can never comprehend with our limited intellect the unfathomable depth of a saint’s life, the profundity of his nectarine words and the selflessness of his all-encompassing love. But just to purify our mind and invoke the grace of the Lord, we shall try to reflect on our beloved Guruji’s life and teachings. In the words of Pujya Gurudev, “To surrender to a Mahatma, requesting him to save us from our misunderstandings (delusions), is to assure for ourselves true Liberation, almost a luxury liner to Truth.”
In Vedanta, Brahman is described as viruddha dharma adhishthaana (substratum supporting opposing qualities) and sarva dharma adhishthaana (substratum for all qualities), and yet, Brahman is dharmaatita (beyond all dharmas). In our Pujya Guruji, we find all the three aspects of Brahman. He is endowed with qualities that are entirely diverse, but he is also ever equipoised, not carried away by any of the merits that adorn him. This is the Brahmatva of Pujya Swami Tejomayanandaji. At one moment, he is at the speechless heights of subtle Vedantic philosophy, while at the very next moment he sweetly sits with his harmonium and sings the most captivating bhajans, filled with devotion. He may be discussing a serious issue with some Mission members, but the very next moment he can be seen playing with a child and enjoying it fully; he reprimands someone sternly for a mistake committed and a little later hugs that person, brimming with love and gentle affection. Sometimes he remains very quiet for a long time, but upon sensing the seriousness around, cracks a hilarious joke immediately, sending everyone into splits of laughter.
Pujya Guruji is indeed the amalgamation of several beautiful personalities. Only a very rare being could be gifted with such a wide spectrum of divine traits. His greatness is rooted in his very saintly nature, with an overflowing devotion for his Ishta, Lord Rama, and absolute surrender to his Guru, Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayanandaji. An astute scholar, a brilliant disciple, an exemplary teacher, a spontaneous composer, an impeccable writer, an able administrator, a melodious singer, a deep thinker, a divine speaker, a dedicated son, a perfect devotee, with many other attributes that defy description, this living Master epitomises the Supreme Truth in thought, word and deed.
What characterises a saintly heart is the overflowing love and compassion for the beings and people around.
It is said,
santa hridaya navanita samaanaa, kahaa kavina para kaahe na jaanaa,
nija paritaapa dravahi navanitaa, para dukha dravahi santa supunitaa.
“Some say that the heart of a saint can be compared to butter, but they fall short in their comparison and the simile is not really perfect. Butter melts only when heated, but the heart of a saint melts simply by seeing the heat or taapa of others.”
What is so amazing about Pujya Guruji is his unbounded love for everyone. Once, I had the opportunity to accompany him to Ujjain in 1995, where he went to meet the family of his departed sister (of his purvaashrama). It was heartbreaking to see tears continuously trickling down Guruji’s eyes as he was consoling everyone in the family, but as soon as he left the place, he regained his own pristine cheerfulness and inner poise. Once, Swami Avdheshananda visited Sandeepany Sadhanalaya, Powai. Preparations were made to welcome him in the Saraswati Nilayam. As Pujya Guruji accompanied him towards the hall, we saw a dog sitting at the very entrance, where the brahmacharis were to offer the formal welcome. We were making frantic efforts to chase that dog away, when Pujya Guruji shouted from a distance, “Usko vahim rahane do, mat hataao vahaam se – let that dog remain there, don’t disturb him.” We were moved to see Guruji’s compassion for an animal even at such a juncture.
Once I told him how someone was disturbing me incessantly, and he replied, “Relax! I will handle that person.” That reply became deeply etched in my heart. Since then, simply by remembering his svabhaava of causeless acceptance and love, I feel life becoming much simpler and easier.
Firm in Conviction and Resolute in Action
It is noteworthy that with such a loving and gentle heart, Pujya Guruji also has unflinching firmness and steadfast resolution in his life. This determination is revealed very vividly in his thoughts, actions and decisions. Even in his daily routines, like controlled eating, simple and straightforward conversation, astonishing punctuality and regular exercising, his resolute nature is clearly seen. When a reputed nutritionist convinced him about the ill effects of drinking milk, he immediately kept his glass of milk aside – and for good! One virtue, which is worth emulation for all seekers, is Guruji’s tremendous courage in transforming his convictions into actions. His life is a living monument of sensitivity, chastity and integrity. At one of the railway stations, when he was received with great pomp, he looked quietly towards me and said with perfect dispassion, “You know, all these receptions are mere deceptions.”
After the completion of one of the Vedanta Courses, someone wanted to don yellow robes and desired brahmacharya dikshaa from Guruji. Seeing the negative response of Guruji, that seeker wept for hours in his room but Guruji was firm and unmoved. He said lovingly to that seeker, “Your time will come later on.”
Describing the minds of great people, it is said:
vajraadapi kathoraani mrduni kusumaadapi, lokottaraanaam chetaamsi kashchit vijnaatumarhati.
“Who can delve into the minds of great people, which are harder than the thunderbolt and softer than flowers!”
Calm in Crisis
Once Pujya Guruji’s yajna was organised in an open ground in Jaipur and while the discourse was going on, a TV cameraman went on the stage for video recording and all of a sudden the wires got entangled somewhere and all the pictures, lamp and altar came tumbling down with a big crash. Everyone was aghast at the apparent inauspiciousness, but Guruji did not utter a single word. Instead he started chanting melodiously, “Shri Krishna Sharanam mama.” When the flaws in a seeker surface, Guruji assumes his impatience for a while, but he remains unfazed and calm, when faced with unpredictable situations in life. In Indore , during the consecration ceremony of Chinmaya Sharanam temple, the murti Sthaapanaa (installation of Lord’s statue) was in progress at the given muhurta when it was found that Bhagavan Krishna’s murti did not fit into the niche prepared for it. The mason was immediately summoned and it took more than an hour to get the alterations made. Guruji stood near the altar all the while, absolutely quiet and motionless. After the programme was over, tears rolled down his cheeks and he said, “ham logom ne Bhagavaan ko kitani der tak khadaa rakhaa! – We made the Lord wait for so long!”
Simple Living and High Thinking
In spite of being the Head of Chinmaya Mission Worldwide, Pujya Guruji has an unassuming simplicity and childlike innocence that defies all logic, and makes him loveable to thousands of people. Though he has to keep in touch with innumerable people, Mission members, old devotees of Gurudev, Swamis and brahmacharis, the young ones in CHYK and Balavihar, our Guruji has no personal email address or mobile number! This does not hinder his efficient handling of all the onerous responsibilities that his high position entails. The hallmark of this rare Master is that he keeps in touch with the common people and their minutest problems, even when he is placed so high in the world and is so deeply immersed in his divine thoughts. He recognises and rewards the contribution of the unseen people behind the scenes, the helpers who make the wheels move. I have seen him literally running to lend a helping hand to an ailing person. Hugging an aged one, inspiring a neglected soul, feeling intensely for someone in distress and comforting people through his visits or words or phone calls, he has earned a place in many hearts, which have become moving shrines carrying Guruji’s prema murti.
It is mentioned in Padma Purana,
kimatra chitram yat santah paraanugraha-tatparah, na hi svadehasheetayaa jaayante chandanadrumah.
“The whole life of a saint is intent on taking away the sorrows of others, just as the sandalwood tree emanates coolness, not for itself, but for others.”
Humility and Self-discipline
Once, in Indore , Pujya Guruji was invited by Sri A. S. Kaitwade for bhiksha. All of a sudden, as Guruji entered the house, his eyes spotted a familiar face, and he exclaimed with joy, “Guruji!” and then bent down to touch his feet. We were all taken aback to see Swami Tejomayanandaji offering pranaams to some ordinary person. Upon enquiring, we came to know that the person was a purohit and Guruji had known him for many years.
Pujya Guruji is the embodiment of humility. He never starts his talks, even if they are in foreign countries, without namaskaara at the altar with the idol of the Lord or the photograph of Pujya Gurudev. He never puts himself on a high pedestal, though the world adores him. He never accepts paada puja though many people cherish a deep desire to worship his feet. He has set the most exemplary standard for all Acharyas of Chinmaya Mission as to how one should remain firm in sadhana and keep the gaze ever fixed on the Feet of Pujya Gurudev. He has taught us all to remain focused on the purification of mind and service of the Guru. He has demonstrated how to take praise and insults from the world and yet love and forgive all. He has shown how to walk the path of success in this world, with one’s feet firmly on the ground. He has never allowed his high status to cloud even slightly his discrimination and dispassion.
Not many people know that Guruji does not start his day without his regular puja and japa. He has proved that sadhana can be done even while working in the outer world and interacting with hundreds of people. Guruji is nishthaa punja, a treasure of firm abidance in many things. He has Guru nishthaa, Shaastra nishthaa, japa nishthaa, puja nishthaa, seva nishthaa, brahmacharya nishthaa, sannyaasa nishthaa and all these culminating in his Atma nishthaa (abidance in the Self).
Pujya Gurudev was so fond of Guruji’s talks that when someone glorified the lectures of a renowned speaker on Ramayana, Gurudev quipped, “He cannot speak better than our Swami Tejomayananda.” Very few know that this Head of the Mission has done a lot of tapasyaa in his earlier days in his house, in the ashram and also as a brahmachari and swami. After coming to Mumbai to study Vedanta, he remained there for more than five years, without visiting his home even once! During his first posting in Bhopal , once he had to cycle down to the yajna venue and it rained heavily on the way. He got drenched in the rain, but sat on the vyaasa pitha (dais) in that condition and spoke on the topic of meditation.
While translating Pujya Gurudev’s Holy Geeta into Hindi, Guruji (known then as Br. Vivek Chaitanya) worked for eight to ten hours at a stretch daily, completing the voluminous work in just six months. While he was posted in Kanpur , he used to visit Allahabad , Lucknow and Rewa frequently, and his mode of travel was the tedious State Transport buses! His personal discipline is such that even today, he leaves no mail unanswered, attends to all the phone calls and yet makes a point to sleep on time and get up by 4 am.
When Guruji, a newly initiated brahmachari then, was asked to talk for the first time at Bhopal , the listeners were quite apprehensive, seeing this young 26-year-old in yellow garb, short in height, simple in looks, but deep in expression. None would have imagined then that a time would come when this low profile, unassuming and unknown sadhu would be heading Chinmaya Mission Worldwide and moulding many seekers into dynamic sannyaasis of the Mission !
Our most beloved Guruji personifies the following words of our Scriptures,
kulam pavitram janani krtaarthaa, vasundharaa punyavati ca tena,
apaara samvit sukhasaagare’ smin, leenam pare brahmani yasya chetah
“When a person’s mind is absorbed in the Absolute Brahman, the Infinite Consciousness, the Ocean of Bliss , the entire clan of such a Mahatma is purified, his mother finds fulfilment and the whole earth becomes meritorious because of his existence.”
A Purifying Presence
Humanity is fortunate to experience the saintliness of Pujya Guruji, to bathe in his nectarine discourses, and learn from him the subtle art of living a devoted and dedicated life. His life is a glowing example of how one can become a very powerful instrument of the Lord simply by holding onto the Feet of the Guru. Swami Tejomayanandaji’s whole life is like a Scripture and his words are like potent mantras! Those who read and reflect continuously on this moving embodiment of Shaastra would definitely be purified! To this silent sage of our times, we all offer our humble prostrations!
Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayanandaji Visit to Chinmayam – July 11 2014