About Swami Pranavananda
"Selflessness is the only way to progress and prosperity" says The Bhagavad Gita. Could it be ? Yes, it does!
This is the beginning of a series that could well be everyone's way of Life...
It started on 26 October 1971.
Yes ! That is long ago!...and it is still going on longer and further on!
Simplicity, Humility, Patience, Love spreading and Seeking to Live with Nature and the Natural way are part of his Concept of Life. Easy to say, but not easy to achieve. We are constantly influenced by our materialistic World and superstition.
Is it a wishful thinking? is it an Utopian ideal? No, it is not. He is the living proof. Though, do we need to give a proof?
For the sake of making you, the reader, understand and feel the truthfullness of his statement, we have to give you the evidence that these slices of his Life have been and continue to be a challenge for him which, at times is very hard to go through.
More than applying out his mind to it, he had to go through the pangs of witnessing his own world disintegrating all around him and reaching his Mind...bringing him to the edge of a cliff where he was about to jump from...
However, like a man who is about to drown, he saw his end coming close to him. His doing a step backward, away from void, gave him a kick that saved his Life and which took him to where he is now.
On the 26th day of October 1971, North-East Monsoon was going to start. His wife, His son and him landed in what was then the tiny airport of Madras. Now Chennai.
It was very hot, stifling hot and humid walking on the tarmac from our aircraft to the then small decrepit terminal. Immigration and Customs formalities were a breeze and his Company Manager whom he was going to replace was waiting for them. He took them to what was going to be one of his many residences. It was to be the starting point where his Future would start to unfold.
Few months past so fast. A war between India and Pakistan started and which, within few months, ended with the Freedom of the Bangladeshis and with the creation of Bangladesh.
During all this while, they had to go through a period of their adjusting themselves to their new Life, new Culture, new Job, and a totally new environment...
A complete shock at first, with heat, humidity, languages, food, and night war curfews with blaring sirens and shouting injunctions from the police in the street at night to close their windows curtains to keep the city in darkness from the enemy planes...
Soon, Peace came back....
The post he had accepted was to look after their trading activities of semi-finished leather to be exported to his Franco-Belgium company in France.
Three years passed with all the issues they had to face and situations they had to adapt to.
he was indeed very happy with his new job as it was keeping him involved with the people of India.
Initial months of adjusting himself to the heat, the way Indians were speaking English were a challenge. It was the occasion of endless misunderstandings with their home employees, people in the street, the driver, the traffic, the people with whom he was working. And, even worse were the innumerable difficult moments during his communicating with the Officials of the Indian Government.
The smells in the streets, offices with weights on flying papers under speedy fans, the incessant noises, the dirt everywhere, the glaring poverty, the beautiful clothing of women, the warmth of everyone's smiles, the crowd everywhere, the mix sound of parrokets and crows in the trees and smells of some curry cooking somewhere...it was for him and his family a revelation of warm, kind, incredibly hospitable people regardless of their social statuses or the size of their wallets!
For his family, and maybe more so for him, it was Love at first sight with Tamil Nadu first and then with the whole of India!
However, for the next three years personal incidents came to spoil the joy of discovering their new surroundings, this beautiful country and its people.
in 1974, The Government of India decided to ban the export of semi-finished leather which was the commodity he was dealing with.
His employer asked him to return to France.
He refused as, at the same time his wife decided to divorce and to leave India. She left for Japan taking along with her their son. He found himself alone, without job, without family nor friends...and penniless.
He discovered loneliness that came along with despair. Dark thoughts were occupying his mind...nights were worse. In those days, no TV, no Internet, no phone, no newspaper and no friends, no shoulders to cry on!
He fired his house cook, his house cleaner, his gardener, his driver...He could not afford them.
What was worse in those days, was that he used to smoke about 60 cigarettes per day and had no money to buy them. His addiction pushed him to go to pavement small shops where cigarettes were sold by the unit ...there, he was picking up half smoked butts lying on the ground and lighting them up with the slowly burning rope we always find hanging by the side of the shop...Of course, he could also not afford to get his usual evening whiskey pegs!
Actually, this is when his real journey in India began.
He was alone with plenty of time to think and cry on himself during his lonely days and nights. In order to hang on on his Life he needed to take stock of it and rewire it.
Believing that if he wanted to survive, he needed to impose on himself a strict discipline and look ahead.
Indeed, he was sure that if he wanted to come out of his condition, he was to be true to himself and have faith in his abilities without losing vision of perspectives laying ahead of him.
His karma came to his rescue by his getting acquainted with his neighbours, a family of Brahmins. The kindness showed to him by the lady of this family was like a piece of floating wood. He grabbed it and that saved his life. She introduced him to her family. That, made him see the light in the horizon.
Meanwhile, pepped up by his new friends' "show of kindness" and upon their recommendation, he decided to go for a class of Hatha Yoga. Swami Vedananda was the person who was teaching for free all men who were interested in Yoga in connection with Hinduism and its Spirituality. He grabbed the offer and for five years, early morning classes by Swami Vedananda were like a bandage to his wounds.
Indeed, this was to be his deliverance from the quagmire he was struggling to extricate himself from.
After some years of learning and practicing Hatha Yoga, Swami Vedananda introduced him to his Guruji Swami Sarveswara Brahmendra Avadhuta. After 3 to 4 years he was to become his Guruji too. Meanwhile, the wind of his fate had changed direction. Thanks to Guruji - a man with his hand and feet eaten up by Leprosy, who was always happy in all circumstances - he became a new man with a clear vision of where he was going and how he will be going there.
His Guruji gave him Sannyas Diksha on January 26, 1988.
At that time, his past was pushed far behind him, but yet vivid in his memory.
During his ordainment, Swamiji gave him the instruction to continue to work. As he should be independent. He should share the result of his work with all those who are working with him and all those who need a help to survive.
To this day, this is what he continues to do. Of course, there are ups and downs. Though more downs than ups, he always prevail.
However, with the firm knowledge of "Who I am" and with the strong Faith that Lord Shiva, The Ultimate is always within and without him and with all, he continues this path of a Business man who is a Hindu Monk. A clothesless man selling clothes; a human being who loves you and All.
A businessman who is a Hindu Monk? Intriguing?
You will find out more in the next series about him, seeking a more meaningful Life.