Shreemat Swami Shivananda – Mahapurush Maharaj (1854 – 1934):-
Swami Shivananda, previously known as Tarak Nath Ghosal was born at Barasat in the District of present North 24 Parganas of West Bengal on 16th December 1854. His father was Ramkanai Ghosal, a great Tantrik Sadhaka i.e. worshiper of Divine Mother following complex and difficult rituals.
Burning sensation of Shree Ramakrishna developed at the time of his spiritual practices had disappeared by wearing amulet prescribed by Shree Ramkanai Ghosal who was respected much by Shree Ramakrishna. His mother was Bamasundari Devi. Both of his parents were very much large hearted and they had much charity for the poor. He had one elder and other two younger sisters. His mother died at the age of his 9 years when his youngest sister was only 3 months old. He had to look after this youngest sister. Two more grave shocks were waiting for him. His eldest sister also died within a few years and his second sister came back to her father’s house being a widow. All these accidents occurred within his 14 years of age and as a result intense spirit of renunciation came to his mind.
He was meritorious but he had no attention to build up any academic carrier. He did not appear in the Entrance-Examination, he took up the pilgrimages. In this phase of his life he accepted service in Railways not to be a burden to anybody and to continue his pilgrim-life. Gradually his mind began to turn more indrawn. Question arose in his mind what real Samadhi is, he wanted to know the real Samadhi and became eager to experience Samadhi.
But despite his utmost endeavour he found nobody who can satisfy him in this matter. He loved very much the deep meditated postures of Lord Shiva and Lord Buddha. He decided that he would never accept the married life and in that way he would spend his spiritual life. But the will of God was different.
Proposals for marriage had come to him from his father a few times, he refused every time, but at last it came in a complicated way. The proposal was he had to marry a girl of a family of which a boy would marry his beloved youngest sister whom he had brought up with great affection from her birth. His sister’s marriage would not be possible if he did not accept the proposal because his father had no ability to pay marriage-money due to his wretched economic condition. So he was compelled to marry and came to Kolkata accepting a service there. He used to stay near the house of Ram Chandra Dutta, a close devotee of Shree Ramakrishna. He looked after his wife Nityakali Devi in all her necessities but he clearly told her that it was not possible for him to accept the worldly-married life like other house-holders. Nityakali Devi also respected him much due to his pious life.
He first met Shree Ramakrishna, an incarnation of God and prophet of the age whom he later accepted as his Guru, the spiritual teacher, at the house of Ram Chandra Dutta. It was happened probably in the year 1880. He heard from Shree Ramakrishna about the essence of Samadhi which was searched by him from his childhood and from the mode of discussion he became confirmed that Shree Ramakrishna was speaking from his own experience. After so many years he achieved his life-guide. Tarak Nath found his own mother in Shree Ramakrishna. He began to visit Dakshineswar oftenly and was progressing spiritually rapidly. Gradually he became acquainted with other disciples of Shree Ramakrishna like Naren, Rakhal and others. In this period his wife Nityakali devi became seriously ill, he took all the means to recover her but he failed and she left her mortal body.
He became free from all worldly bondages. He gave up his service and prayed for permission from his father for leaving this worldly life. The father who knew the importance of leaving worldly life in spiritual sphere being himself a spiritual aspirant, blessed his son with tears in his eyes that “You realize God. I myself tried my best, I tried to leave up the Worldly-Life but I could not, so I bless you, you realize God.”
He was the first among the disciples of Shree Ramakrishna who cut off all the relations from the worldly life. Henceforth he used to stay at first at Dakshineswar and afterwards Shree Ramakrishna arranged his staying at the house of Ram Chandra Dutta. He spent almost all his time in spiritual practices. Gradually Shree Ramakrishna was also fallen ill and Tarak Nath devoted his time to serve his Guru along with his other brother-disciples to cure him. But Shree Ramakrishna left his mortal body foiling all the endeavors of his disciples.
Now a new phase of Tarak Nath’s life began. He left for pilgrimages for a few days. Soon Narendranath, later Swami Vivekananda rented a house at Baranagar to conduct a Math with the ideas and ideals of their Guru Shree Ramakrishna with the financial help of Suresh Chandra Mitra who got a divine vision in this matter. Narendranath called Tarak Nath to stay at the Math and soon he arrived, he is the first inhabitant of this budding Math which would be developed in future as Ramakrishna Math with its various branches. Gradually other young disciples of Shree Ramakrishna gathered there. They all plunged into intense spiritual practices which would be red lettered marked in the history of spiritual practices of thousands of years.
There they all took the vow of Sannyasa, life of renunciation and Tarak Nath turned to Swami Shivananda. Swami Vivekananda called him ‘Mahapurush’ for his high spiritual life. Gradually he was recognized in Ramakrishna Sangha as Mahapurush Maharaj. He spent many years in deep spiritual practices and was roaming in different pilgrimages depending upon only on God. When Swami Vivekananda came back to India from West after his glorious campaign there, Swami Shivananda along with Swami Niranjanananda first welcomed him.
Swami Vivekananda established Ramakrishna Mission and started different works following the Mantras “Work is worship”, “Service to man is service to God”. Mahapurush Maharaj also joined these works accepting these as ‘Sādhanā’ of the new age responding the loving and clarion call of their beloved brother and leader Swami Vivekananda. He had to take different important responsibilities of the twin organizations Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission.
He had to take even the highest position of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission but he was always merged into Shree Ramakrishna, he could not think himself nothing but a tool of Shree Ramakrishna. Actually Shree Ramakrishna was revealing through him. When he was the President of the whole Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission and was the Guru or spiritual guide of hundreds of people, he expressed his function in this way that he was only a worshiper of Shree Ramakrishna where he was offering his disciples to the lotus feet of Shree Ramakrishna as flowers are used to offer.
He used to bless all the people who came to him. At the fag end of his monastic life he was bed-ridden and unable to talk due to severe stroke. But joy was always radiated from his face and every man and woman was being blessed receiving his soundless blessings expressed by gesture. At last he left his mortal body on 20th February 1934 at the age of eighty, Buddha’s age. It is believed in Ramakrishna Sangha that previously he was one of the inner-circle companions of Lord Buddha supported by different incidents in his life.
Few teachings of Swami Shivananda are as follows:-
Prayer, prayer, only pray to Him with extreme intentness. Weep with prayer, then only His mercy will come. See, how Shree Shree Thakur used to call Him! He used to weep rubbing his face on ground and cried, one day has passed away, Oh Mother, yet you have not given your vision!
At the time when you will do meditation and japam, do it with great affection and love. You may do for ten or twenty minutes but you have to do with heart and soul. He is the knower of core of the entire mind, He is your inner most existence, He will see your urge, He will see your love, He will not see the time.
Why have you keep your hair so long? Cut off that. It will be falsely exhibiting religion. You will live like other people. There will not exist any difference from outside. You will call Mother from your innermost soul. Is she an out-worldly mother?
Is it a common age? It is a great holy period. All will be easy to any person who will take the name of Shree Ramakrishna in this age and will proceed on the path of God accepting him the ideal. In this age it is very easy to achieve godliness if anybody makes his life with the ideal of Shree Ramakrishna and moulds own life in his life-mould.
Don’t forget Him in this world of Māyā. You may do hundreds of work, you may earn crores of money, but know it rigidly from the core of your heart that these are all transient, you have to leave these in time. The permanent existence is only God. Pray to the Lord, take refuge to him. My child, all bondages will go away.