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November 2019

 Swami Turiyananda

The Embodiment of Austerity

Swami Turiyananda, being a man of meditation, was averse to public life. Since long the Swami had been trying to persuade him to come out into the arena of work, but in vain. At last, one day in the summer of 1897, while they were at Darjeeling, when all argument had failed, and Turiyananda had been modestly insisting that public preaching was not in his line, the Swami put his arms round the neck of his brother-monk, laid his head on the latter’s chest, and said, weeping: “Dear Haribhai, don’t you see, I have been laying down my life, inch by inch, to fulfil the mission of our Master, till I am on the verge of death! Can you merely look on and not come to my help by relieving me of a part of my great burden?” Turiyananda was overpowered by this moving appeal, such was the love he bore the Swami. All his hesitation vanished in minutes, and then and there he pledged to do unflinchingly whatever the Swami would bid him do. Since then he had been sharing the responsibilities of the work with his brother-monks. As we have seen, he went to Kathiawar to preach Vedanta and collect funds. On his return from there, when the Swami asked him to accompany him to the West as a teacher of Vedanta, he took it as the will of the Mother and resigned himself to the task without a word of protest.

           Swami Turiyananda was held in great love and reverence by the brotherhood for his austere life of Brahmacharya from his very boyhood, for his spirit of burning renunciation, and for his highly developed spiritual nature. Versed in Sanskrit and an adept in meditation, he had from the days of the Alambazar Math trained the younger members of the monastery by holding classes and talks and, above all, by his exemplary life. When the Swami asked him to go to America, he expressed the desire to take with him some standard Vedantic works in Sanskrit. The Swami exclaimed: “Oh, of learning and books, they have had enough! They have seen the Kshatriya power; now I want to show them the Brahmana!” He meant that in himself the people of the West had seen the combative and protective spirit, as manifest in his own vigorous defence of the Sanatana Dharma; and now the time had come for them to have before them the example of a man of meditation who had been born and bred in the best traditions and rigorous disciplines of Brahmanhood.