If rediscovering my music guru was thrilling, my sighting of His Holiness Pujya Swami Chinmayananda was no less impressive.
Swami Chinmayananda’s ashram is situated on the banks of Powai Lake and on almost exactly opposite bank is the sprawling campus of my alma mater, the Indian Institute of Technology or IIT, Mumbai.
The Director of IIT Powai, Brig. Bose, had invited Swamiji for a lecture/ discourse at the Institute. A small auditorium called Lecture Theatre with a capacity of about 300 was the venue of Swamiji’s discourse. Even in the decade of 60s Swamiji had an impressive number of followers. His name spelt awe in our mind.
On the appointed day, the Lecture Theatre was packed with the students, and the staff, keenly awaiting the arrival of Swamiji.
The Swamiji, followed by a team of his followers, entered the theatre exactly at the scheduled time and without going through any formalities began his discourse. I do not remember the topic but whatever he spoke was with authority, with the right stress on important phrases, with the right pauses that sometimes extended to 30 to 40 seconds. To say that all of us were spell bound is an understatement. He cast a spell of serene peace in the theatre; no one moved, all eyes were transfixed on the radiating face of Swamiji. It was peace in the absolute sense of the word. Words of wisdom flowed like divine music.
Suddenly, we heard footsteps coming from the long corridors of the campus, the rhythmic sounds rising with each step. The well-designed roofed corridors caused an echo effect that we discovered that day in the quietest possible serene atmosphere in and around the Lecture Theatre.
Someone was approaching the theatre!
Swamiji paused in his discourse in the middle of the sentence, held his breath and waited for the sound to subside. Instead, it became sharper with each passing moment. Swamiji neither showed any signs of displeasure, nor any sign of fidgeting, and kept staring in the general direction of the audience, with his mouth half open, in the middle of the sentence, with a divine smile on his face
It was the Personal Assistant of the Director of IIIT, slowly making his way into the theatre with an important looking paper. He entered from the only entrance to the theatre in the front, right by the side of the podium. He looked around, duly embarrassed, but decided that his job had to be done. It appeared the Director had to sign some paper and it was urgent. Brig. Bose, taking a cue from Swamiji, did not make any fuss and signed the paper after a brief glance at the contents of the paper.
Now, the PA, with the signed paper in his hand, made an about turn, slowly made his way back to his office, again creating the same echo effect of the sounds of his footsteps, gradually fading away.
No sooner the sound of the footsteps ceased than the Saintly figure on the podium, resumed his discourse, picking up from where he had paused, as if nothing untoward had happened. The audience too displayed no sign of the usual flutter that an event like this causes.
The music of the silence: the divine melody of Swamiji’s silence and the rhythm of the footsteps!
3 thoughts on “The divine melody and rhythm of silence”
While I do not remember the incident, I do remember going to Swamiji’s Ashram on bicycle with other friends. And about the incident itself: I believe that you could not expect anything else from him than what he displayed!
I have had occasions to hear the present chief of Chinmaya Mission: Swami Tejomayananda and was impressed with his knowledge of Sanskrit and ability to recite the relevant reference during the course of his discourse. He plays harmonium and has a good voice and knowledge of classical music. I have been attending programs called Chinmaya Naad Bindu at their Ashram near Pune. The two or three day program features noted Indian classical artistes, dancers etc and is residential one. I will give you dates for the next one (the last was in Feb 2016) and you may decide to join us.
Thanks Arun. I went to his ashram walking along the great big pipeline !
My first encounter of him was in Bombay Hockey Association ground (circa 1965). We (Bhai and I) were visiting his uncle in Madhav Mansion (Grant Road) and Bhai’s youngest Cousin (We called him Bachukaka) was heading to BHA to listen to Swami Chinmayananda. I decided to go with him. Swamijee was young and did not yet have Ashrams around the world or in India for that matter. It was a cold day and discourse was to start at 7 pm. Hundreds of people had come and the silence was deafening, a novel experience in Bombay which was a cacophony at any time of the day.
The talk was on Geeta. and he was as sure and clear as he was in the later years I had the opportunity to hear him.