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Nilachal Saraswat Sangha,Puri


aramahansa Swami Nigamananda Saraswati Deva



| The Turning Point
| In Quest Of Truth
|After Attainment Of Truth

Paramahansa Swami Nigamananda Saraswati Dev was born to a virtuous Brahmin couple at Qutabpur in Nadia district (now in Bangladesh) in the year 1880. Named as ‘Nalinikanta’ by his father Bhubanmohan Chattopadhyaya and mother Yogendramohini he grew to boyhood drawing admiration of people for his extraordinary fearlessness, intelligence and forthrightness. He was, also, respectful and leadership was natural to him.

The Turning Point

But, as the fate would have it Yogendra Mohini breathed her last prematurely from a brief illness. At that time, as Nalinikanta was pursuing his primary education away from his village he couldn't get a chance to see his mother. Her death deeply shocked Nalinikanta as he was very much devoted to his mother. He came to know that just before she breathed her last, his mother had handed over his charges to the ‘Jaganmata’ the ‘Cosmic Mother’. He took the words of her mother to be literally true. As he was desperately in need of a mother, he single-heartedly prayed to the ‘Jaganmata’ to appear before him.

But alas! He failed to get a glimpse of ‘Her’ or his deceased mother even in his dreams. He lost faith in God thinking that God does not exist, the religious rites and spiritual practices are worthless activities, and all those sadhus, ascetics or renunciates are lazy worthless cheats. His belief in God was shaken to such extent that he turned extremely antagonistic towards everything related to Him. He convinced to himself that ‘death’ is the ‘end’ of everything in one’s life. Thereafter he decided for himself that - religion to him would be nothing other than ‘doing good to the fellow beings’, and his only duty is to lead a disciplined and virtuous life.

To fill in the void created by the death of Yogendramohini Devi in the Chattopadhyaya household, Nalinikanta the eldest son in the family, was married off to an extremely beautiful and intelligent girl named Sudhansubala. Further, after completing his study at the Dhaka Survey School, Nalinikanta took up jobs at various places to earn his livelihood. His independent spirit and forthright attitude was forcing him to frequently change his jobs.

Once, while serving as the supervisor of the Narayanapur estate (Zamindari) Nalinikanta was working late in the night. He suddenly saw the shadowy image of Sudhansubala standing at the table, sullen and silent. Sudhansubala was supposed to be away at Kutabpur at that time and was not expected to be present at Narayanpur at all. The image appeared there for a few moments only. Nalinikanta felt disturbed and rushed to his village Qutabpur, next day. He came to know that Sudhansubala had expired just an hour before he saw her image at Narayanapur. Since childhood Nalinikanta had a thoughtful disposition. This incidence drew him further inwards. Soon after, he happened to see the shadowy image of Sudhansubala several times in quick succession.

Nalinikanta had thought that death is the ultimate end of an individual. But, now he couldn’t wish away the fact that it is not so. By now, he was convinced that there must be ‘life’ after ‘death’. He solemnly resolved to get back his beloved wife from the other world at any cost. Never before in the history of mankind had any bereaved husband made such a resolution, being so much oblivious of the impossibility of his success.

In Quest Of Truth

Nalinikanta became desperate to know all about the subtle phenomena of life and death. Thoughts such as - "What’s death? How can I conquest death? How can I establish a connection between both the worlds?" - began to worry him all the time. This inquest took him to the Theosophical Society at Adyar, in Chennai, India. He learnt all the theories and practices that Theosophy could offer and was able to talk to Sudhansu Devi through a medium. But, Nalinikanta could not see her physically. He was not satisfied with the experience at all. Through a discussion with the members of the Society he came to know that the knowledge about the phenomena of ‘life and death’ was the prerogative of the Hindu Yogis. He spared no time in looking for a true Yogi or Sadhu who could fulfill his desire to meet his dead wife as well as bring contentment to his seeking mind.

While searching for a true Yogi, Nalinikanta came across Swami Purnananda, a highly educated renunciate. The Swami explained to him that all female beings are merely a partial manifestation of the ‘Mahamaya’ or the ‘Cosmic Mother’. Hence, it was extremely unwise on his part to run after an insignificant part (his wife) ignoring the whole (the Cosmic Mother). If he could get Mahamaya, he would automatically get his wife and there were sure ways to get Her. Swami Purnananda advised him to look for a ‘Sadguru’. Nalinikanta returned to his place of service a changed man. The belief in ‘life after death’ and ‘soul’ had turned him into a believer. He was desperately praying God for a chance to meet his destined Sadguru.

One night Nalinikanta saw one Sadhu with a brilliant aura around him in his dream. He woke up to find the Sadhu standing beside his bed in ‘reality’. The Sadhu handed out to him a ‘bilwa’ leaf bearing a mantra written on it and then disappeared. Nalinikanta was spellbound by the incident. He did not know what to do with the mantra. No sadhu or spiritual teacher, whom he consulted, could decipher the mantra nor could they give him any guidance about what to do with it. At this point of time a crestfallen Nalinikanta received directions in his dream to go to the greatest Tantrik Guru of that time - Bamakshepa, at the ‘Tarapeetha’ of Birbhum, in West Bengal. Bama was extremely pleased to see the unique ‘Veeja Mantra’ (root/source mantra) of Goddess Tara which Nalinikanta had received in his dream, and readily accepted him as his disciple. Within a short span of one month, Nalinikanta was able to master the secrets of the Tantrik ways (tantra sadhana) of attaining spiritual success. As a mark of perfection of his sadhana (spiritual practice), ‘Tara’ or ‘Mahashakti’ (the embodiment of cosmic energy) appeared before him in the form of his wife Devi Sudhansubala and granted him the boon that he would be able to see Her in that form whenever he would so wish.

But later on, Nalinikanta became discontent as the form of Sudhansubala eluded physical contact with him. Moreover, Nalinikanta observed in disappointing wonder that that form would materialize out of his person no sooner than he wanted to see Her but would melt away into the same whenever he tried to hold Her in embrace. He was puzzled by this highly tantalizing experience. He began to wonder, "If ‘Mahashakti’ originates from me only, then who am I?"

Overpowered by a consuming desire to know his ‘self’, Nalinikanta sought the advice of guru Bamakshepa. The latter advised him to attain the knowledge of ‘Advaita’ from a Vedantic guru. He became a disciple of Guru Srimat Swami Satchidananda Saraswati at the holy place of ‘Pushkar’ in the state of Rajasthan. He instantly realized that Swami Satchidananda Saraswati was the sadhu who gave him the ‘Tara’ mantra in his dream. The swami initiated Nalinikanta into the arduous practice of Sanyas (renunciation) and in due course named him ‘Nigamananda’, in consideration of his sound comprehension of the Vedic (nigama) knowledge (jnana) with facility.

On the advice of guru Satchidanda, Nalinikanta went to attain the direct experience of this Vedic truth through yoga. Led by providence, Nalinikanta was able to find his yogi guru Sumeru Dasji most dramatically, in the thick and inaccessible forests near the holy place of ‘Parasuram’ (in the north-eastern India). After completing ‘yoga sadhana’ (practice of yoga) under the masterful guidance of yogiraj Sumeru Dasji, he attained the state of ‘Nirbikalpa Samadhi’ (non-dual existence/complete identification with the Cosmic Soul or the Parambramha), at once pervading the universe and transcending it. He came back from that blissful state with the realization that he is the ‘universal guru’ i.e. the ‘supreme soul’.

He then found the most satisfying answer to his query, "Who am I?"

But, Nalinikanta had to be initiated into the mysteries of being in love with ‘God’ (prema/bhav sadhana) by ‘Gauri Ma’, a female sadhu of unique spiritual merits. She taught him how the Supreme Soul is both transcendental and playfully active in the universe. He understood that ‘he’ was to initiate mankind in this ‘mantra’ of ‘devoted love’ for God.

Thus Nigamananda became perfect in Tantra, Jnana, Yoga and Prema/Bhav, all the four ways envisaged in Sanatana Dharma (ever new/eternal, and universal spiritual principles based on Vedic knowledge) to reach the highest spiritual goal. During the 1905 Kumbha Mela at Ujjain, Swami Satchidananda Saraswati conferred the title of ‘paramahansa’ on Nalinikanta in recognition of his spiritual merits in a huge gathering of leading sadhus and renunciates under the auspices of the then Shankaracharya of Sringery Matha.

After Attainment Of Truth

Sadguru Swami Nigamananda Saraswati Dev, soon, felt an irresistible urge to share his overflowing divine bliss with the suffering multitude. Hence, he entered into society to wake up a spiritually inert people.

In the prevailing atmosphere of confusion in ideals and spirituality among his countrymen, he first sought to call the attention of the so called educated people for rediscovering the merits of Sanatana Dharma. He wrote five books - Bramhacharya Sadhana, Yogiguru, Jnaniguru, Tantrikguru, and Premikaguru - which are invaluable for any seeker on the path of spirituality. He edited and published a path breaking and reformist periodical ‘Arya Darpana’ in 1908 (one of the earliest periodicals of India). It was widely received as a trend-setting journal on religion and spirituality and acted as the mouthpiece of Sanatana Dharma.

With a view to establishing universal brotherhood he set before himself three objectives, namely, (i) propagation of ‘Sanatana Dharma’, (ii) dissemination of ‘Sat-siksha’ (right type of education that enables development of an integrated personality and humanity), and (iii) service to all living beings deeming it as service rendered to the Supreme Being. In order to realize these objectives he enjoined upon his followers to (i) lead Adarsha Grihastha Jeevan (an ideal virtuous family life), (ii) walk together on the path of spirituality establishing Sangha Shakti (power of spiritual associations) and (iii) have Bhava-Binimaya (commune with each other for mutual exchange of spiritual ideas and experiences).

Generally reticent, he had always shunned publicity and public platforms; and preferred to speak to small groups of sincere devotees guiding them for inner progress.

He instructed his followers to strive to become ideal human beings at the first instance so as to reach the ultimate spiritual goal as a matter of course. In his opinion a liberated soul is the right person to serve mankind in the right manner. He looked forward to the dawn of the golden age of ancient times (Rishi Yuga)and urged his followers to make sincere and concerted efforts through ‘Sanghas’ towards this end.

He established the unique tradition of "Bhakta Sammilani" (the annual congregation of devotees) for a spirited interaction between the two types of seekers — the household devotees and the renunciates. Thereby, both would commune and proceed together in the path of spirituality.

While leading a secluded life in Puri, Orissa, mostly, remaining merged in his Brahma-bhav, Swami Nigamananda had become inspired to establish the Nilachal Saraswat Sangha there in 1934. He directed his householder disciples, numbering a few then, to come together under this Sangha in living the ideals set by him.

There was a harmonious blending of highest enlightenment (jnana) and universal love (bhakti) in the person of Swami Nigamananda. Rightly so, his ideological as well as methodological principle was — " Shankarer Mata" (the Vedantic doctrine of the 8th century spiritual reformist Sri Sri Adi Shankaracharya), and "Gauranger Patha" (the path of devotion adopted by Sri Chaitanya Dev, the 14th century avatara of devotion, as the royal road to the spiritual destination i.e. God).

Swami Sri Sri Nigamananda Saraswati Dev left his material body and attained ‘mahasamadhi’ (eternal union with the Supreme Soul) through yoga kriya (yogic techniques) on November 29, 1935 in Kolkata. He has told, - "I exist for eternity and will exist so forever. And, I shall keep guiding you even after I leave this body, exactly, as I'm guiding you at present."

The holy presence of Sri Sri Thakura is still felt and his reassuring voice is still heard in the hour of need by his followers who have implicit faith in him, vindicating his sayings and the scriptural proclamation that the ‘Sadguru’ is ‘eternal’. Rightly, his followers deified him as their revered and beloved ‘Thakura’ and worship him as their ‘Guru’ (the supreme preceptor) as well as ‘Ishta’ (the personal God) at the same time.