04 Jul A Sannyasin’s Life
When an ardent devotee first came in contact with Gurudev in the mid-1970s, he was amazed to see how many bhikshas Gurudev attended at which his devotees, disciples, and admirers offered him sumptuous meals.
“Unaccustomed to this, I used to look at the whole thing with a certain degree of curiosity,” says the devotee. “I even began to think that a sannyasin’s life was pretty good.”
Around 1979, he and his wife went to India. They joined Gurudev in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, where he was holding a jnana yajna, with lectures every morning and evening.
On a particular Sunday, Gurudev’s schedule between morning class and noon included an inauguration of a local Chinmaya Mission Centre some 25 miles from Tirupati, a lecture at
an ancient temple, and a bhiksha at the home of a devotee. “Knowing of the busy morning schedule, the host served an adequate breakfast to Swamiji,” says the devotee.
“We, too, were the beneficiaries, as we were going with Swamiji. Then we headed toward the site of the inauguration, arriving there in about one hour. The hosts assumed that Gurudev had started from Tirupati early and must be famished.
They had therefore prepared a rich breakfast. So Gurudev, in spite of his fragile health condition, ate the second breakfast. So did we, although it was difficult.” Within an hour, they arrived at their next destination, another site for
the inauguration festivities.
The hosts must again have assumed that Gurudev would be requiring a meal, for they had made arrangements for an elaborate breakfast.
“Each item on the menu was special,” recalls the devotee, “but by this time even to look at any food was making me sick.” As he was considering skipping this meal, Gurudev motioned to him to join him at the table.
Gurudev was served ample quantities of breakfast delicacies with great devotion, and since the devotee shared the same table, he, too, received bountiful helpings of everything.
“Swamiji started eating as though he had not touched food all morning,” he says. “I made a slow start, as I was afraid I may not be able to keep the food down.”
After a number of attempts by the hosts to give second and third helpings, the devotee stretched his hands over his plate to avoid any additional helpings, feeling quite sick already.
Yet Gurudev continued eating. “Swamiji obviously sensed my predicament,” he remembers. “Not quite looking at me, he said softly, “This is called true sannyasa.”
Later that day, Gurudev accepted yet another bhiksha at noon, followed by a regular lunch at the host’s place.
The devotee says: “My mind returned to my earlier thoughts about a sannyasin’s life. Swamiji went through this kind of life day after day, year after year because of the love in his heart for his devotees and disciples.
Not only that, but he would compliment them for their exceptional culinary genius. And he had read my mind and taught me by example how much sacrifice a sannyasin’s life truly contains.