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!