From a revolutionary sentenced to a long prison term to a spiritual ascetic and teacher?this encompasses the life of Sri Sadguru Omkar, who has been a revered octogenarian with his ashram in the Nandi Hills of Kolar district of Karnataka. He was known as Nilkantha Brahmachari and was born on December 4, 1889 at Tanjore in an orthodox Brahmin family. Since a very young age, in school itself, he got involved in revolutionary activities and had to discontinue his studies after matriculation. He came in contact with the editor of a revolutionary journal and left his home to stay at the editor'shouse. He became deeply involved in terrorist activities in south India and said, ?We were the first communists, long before the communist revolution took place in Russia and published the Communist Manifesto in 1848 in India in English and Tamil. We were the first people to organise the agrarian revolution in Kerala among the Moplah Muslim farmers, which was immediately turned into Hindu-Muslim riots?the infamous Moplah riots by the wily British.?
He was arrested at Calcutta in 1911 but escaped in 1914. He was rearrested, released and arrested. During his prison term, he tried to commit suicide out of depression. He wrote his dairy called Confessions and after his release in June 1930, he totally left politics and wandered here and there for some time. At last he established his ashram on Nandi Hills and said, ?My ashram is a beautiful place with all the conveniences necessary for a spiritual life, but disappointing to a lover of ease and comfort.? He passed away on March 4, 1978 in his ashram at the age of 89.
His book, Confessions is a psychological document containing many striking and deeply thought ideas expressed in a style of considerable power and founded on spiritual experience. As for upadeshas delivered orally to his shishyas (disciples) over a period of years and preserved in the form of notes, a few were extracted from letters and the last five were specially written to include sadhana which is usually taught to a person in meditation. Talking of Brahmanism, he says, it is ?universalism based on Brahman?the source and unity of all existence. Every believer in Brahman is a Brahman. Brahmanism is rationalism based on Dharma?the rational and purposeful way of life.? He adds, ?Brahmanism is a process of seeking joy, revelling in joy and living in joy. Dharma is not non-hurting others and hurting yourself. If you hurt yourself, you hurt one person in the world, whoever it may be. It is hurt. It is adharma.? This book is directed at philosophers, saint and would-be sages.
(Akshaya Prakashan, 208 M.G. House, 2 Community Centre, Wazirpur Industrial Area, Delhi-110052.)