AkhandanandaBholanath DidimaGurupriya Didi Paramananda
HaribabaBhaijiGopinath KavirajAtmananda
Swami SwarupanandaSwami ChinmayanandaSwami VirajanandaSwami Vijayananda
Swami BhaskaranandaSwami SivanandaSwami BhajananandaSwami Omkarananda
Br KamalakantaBr YogeshdaBr AtuldaBr Hari Harda
Sri AbhaydaBr TanmayanandaBr PanudaSwami Keshavananda

 

Swami Omkarananda

In the sphere of Indian spirituality the name of Swami Omkarananda Giri, ever expresses the pertinence of an ideal divine life. Prior to Sanyasa his name was Abani Shankar Bhattacharyya. He was born in Pattan village at Bramhanbaria of Tripura district (now in Bangladesh) in the year 1908. He hailed from the great Kashyapas of Vidyakut, well known as a unique family consisting of many noted scholars, yogis, sages and religious leaders, among which Her Holiness Mother Sri Sri Anandamoyee is the most celebrated.

Genealogically both from piri and matri lineages, Abani Shankar was a successor of the great heritage of the religious personalities viz. his grandfather, the famous Pundit Haradas Tarkaratna, an ascetic at his young age and his cousin brother Brajavidehi Santadas Kathia Baba (previously Tara KishorChowdhury), his father Pundit Akshay Kumar, who had taken to the mendicant life of an ascetic when Abani Shankar was only four years old and was also an eminent Chandi orator empowered to utter infallible words, his mother Soudamini Devi and maternal uncle Srimad Parimohan Goswami, the descendants of Madhavacharyya, the doyen of the Vaisnavas and many other religious stalwarts.

With this deep rooted religious base, Abani Shankar’s life was a splendid blend of spirituality and hard reality. He was recipient of many honours, degrees, diplomas, awards and laurels from numerous well known universities and institutions in the fields of Sanskrit language and literature, Philosophy, Ayurveda etc. on one hand and also on the other hand he had been punished and imprisoned by the British Government as a rebel inspiring the civil disobedience movement – being an activist of the noted extremist organisation of the freedom fighters Anushilan Samitee.

He commanded respect from his many successful students and his countrymen as an ideal teacher as well as author of a number of published books, research papers and essays in the spheres of Sanskrit language, literature, philosophy, orientology and spirituality viz. ‘Kalap Chandrika’ (a legendary work on the lost and age-old Sanskrit learning procedure of Kashmir), composed all of Sadvani (teachings of Ma Anandamoyee) in Sanskrit verses – Tatvamasi. He was editor of many papers and periodicals and was the founder and the director a number of organisations which rendered social services.

Apart from such a wide range of activities he was also interested in sports, particularly in football and in cultural activities like music and drama. He was the composer of numerous Sanskrit and Bengali devotional songs. On different occasions Abani Shankar came in close contact with celebrities like Kaji Nazrul Islam, Sachin Devburman, Ajay Bhattacharyya, Annada Shankar Roy, Mahesh Bhattacharya, Swami Pranabananda, founder of Bharat Sevashram Sangha, Swami Swarupananda, foundcr of Ajachak Sangha, Swami Satyananda of Nigamananda Ashram. Sri Damodar Dandi Swami of Adyapeeth Sri Ramakrishna Sangha etc.

Because Abani Shankar’s family profession was teaching and initiating people for their salvation, the divine quest about God was very much in his mind from his childhood and in accordance with that convention he also assisted almost one hundred and fifty families from all over West Bengal, Tripura and Assam to find their true path. But this divine quest was intensified considerably after the untimely death of his wife. At last in the year 1979 at Srikshetra Puri he came in close touch of with Sri Ma. His life then attained a strange and inexplicable level of Supernatural Vision.

After the worldly disappearance of Sri Ma Abani Shankar spent a prolonged period performing complete recitations of Chandi, the Geeta and meditation of Mother regularly at Agarpara Ashram. He was instructed by Swami Chinmoyananda, a great devotee and one of the closest disciples of Sri Ma. He took ‘Sannyasa’ by observing the ‘Biraja Homa’ ( ritual to cast aside his previous way of Life) on the sacred day of Akshaya Tritia and became known as ‘Swami Omkarananda Giri’. Then he retired to a very small cottage situated in a deserted place to live the austere life of ‘Sannyasa’ with continuous meditation and Jap and intense study of the religious scriptures. He used to eat only a small quantity of boiled vegetables and milk for his lunch and dinner respectively.

Swami Omkarananda first attained Samadhi on the day of Saraswati Puja in the year 1987. Seeing his worse physical condition his relative called doctors for his treatment. The physicians found him in good health following from the high state of his mind. In the course of his ‘Sadhana’ he experienced the ‘four phases’ mentioned in the scriptures viz. ‘Pisacha Bat (cannot recognise dirty objects) ‘Unmada Bat’ ( severe mental disorder), ‘Jada Bat (appearance as if dead) and ‘Balaka Bat’ (appearance like a child). Omkaranandaji used to be completely absorbed in deep meditation of God. It was a divine frenzy – sometimes laughing and being totally uninterested in his food, dress, shelter or rest. Suddenly one day he ate an entire basket of fruit offerings for Sri Ma, totalling about fifteen kgs.

Sometimes his body appeared as if dead. On one occasion a wound at his waist was created by some venomous ants. Very astonishingly he could feel neither the severe pain of it nor its treatment through application of medicine. The psychiatrists brought in by his relatives, again diagnosed an indescribable condition of mind being fully absorbed in the thoughts of the Supreme. It was the ultimate sacrifice – a complete indifference to pleasure and pain, which was once expressed by him when he quoted the hymns of the ‘Sankhya Sutram’viz. ‘Na Titiksha Sama Sadhanam ‘i.e. ‘there is no worship like sacrifice through endurance’. Later on his ascetic life entered into that phase when he seemed to resemble a child. His gestures, postures and state of mind were simply like those of a child. It was as if he was always floating upon an unknown wave of eternal bliss. At this stage innumerable devotees and pious people received his blessings. Chanting of the holy scriptures like the Geeta, the Chandi, the Bagavat and Japa, meditation, worship, Yagna, Satsang were always in going on in his sacred presence. One day he suddenly embraced his only son, and said that for the attainment of the Supreme a devotee should go even beyond the level of the worship of deities. After a few moments he pushed his son away, indicating his detachment from all sentimental relations and ties – the final sign of departure. He then asked his son to fetch the almanac and indicated the very auspicious day of Maghi Shukla Tritia ( third day of the light fortnight in the month of Magha i.e. January-February) at the onset of ‘Uttarayan’ ( summer solstice according to the Indian calendar). It was the 22nd January, 1996, selected by Swami Omkarananda Giri himself. He was lying on the bed with a steady gaze at the photo of Sri Ma. The song written by him viz. ‘Guru Bhagawan Ma Bhagawan … .Pai Jano Anteeme’ ‘Tabo Pade Sthan…’ (Oh my Guru —my mother my God – let me take shelter at your lotus feet at the end..) was being sung. The divine soul of Swami Omkarananda touched the lotus feet of Mother forever, departing from all connection with this material world.

 

Extract from “Of those that have Surrendered at Her Feet.”

 


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