Cover Story: ‘NRI Sanyasi’ Preaches India’s Wisdom to Indians
Swami Dakshinamurti (Christian name – Lucien Pater Jordan) has been living in Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh for more than forty years after roaming around different parts of this country for several years. Born in 1938 in South Africa to parents of British origin, Lucien renounced the worldly life at the age of nineteen, and adopted the life-style of a Hindu Sanyasi for learning the spiritual wisdom of India. About a year later, his journey to India was arranged by a group of Hindu organisations and people in South Africa. He arrived in India about fifty years ago when he had not yet turned twenty one years of age. Since then he has lived a life of renunciation and meditation in India.
On becoming a Sanyasi, Dakshinamurti (his Indian name) tore apart his South African Visa and Passport, arguing that a sanyasi is a universal being and world citizen and therefore he doesn’t need the passport of a particular country or Visa permit to live anywhere else. However, since everybody couldn’t fathom his spirituality quite a few times he even landed in jail. Some of his admirers and devotees in Mirzapur who have taken care of him worked to ensure that he is granted Indian Citizenship to avoid any such situation in future. And finally in 1995, he was granted Indian citizenship, the certificate of which was handed over to him by the District Magistrate of Mirzapur in the presence of a distinguished gathering.
Today, Swami Dakshinamurti follows the life-style of a Hindu sanyasi, and his words and thoughts flow from the intensity of his own inner life. Having extracted his ideas and wisdom from the Indian spiritual tradition, Swamiji preaches that we cannot be happy and fulfilled unless we attune ourselves to our inner self and unless we practice renunciation and detachment. Having wandered all over the country, he is now settled with a devotee (on the devotee’s request) who takes care of his personal needs. He keeps busy with spiritual practice, meditation, creative thinking, reading, writing and giving discourses to spiritual seekers. His book titled ‘YOGA’ and five volumes of ‘EKAGRATA’ have been published by his devotees and disciples. He keeps away from publicity and media glare, however, he enjoys talking to the genuine spiritual seekers, who he believes crave for spiritual wisdom.
He considers India was to be his spiritual home; a land whose mystic and philosophic traditions would provide a congenial environment for the development of a purely spiritual way of life. Describing the Indian way of life Swamiji says, “The people of India, it seems to me, inherit, perhaps quite unconsciously, a special aptitude for spiritual things, which apart from proving especially accommodative to a person of my spiritual leanings, has also, I think, in a subtle way, been the source of much learning for me. I cannot exactly say how this is, but I know that I have imbibed a great deal of Hindu mysticism simply by living amongst the Hindu people. I have found this spiritual inheritance often in its most distinct form amongst the simple, semi-literate people of villages. Their interpretations of religious virtues are still a fairly unchanged representation of the ancient mystic precepts, handed down by tradition and unconfused by learned and complicated modern intellectualism.”
The vagrant life-style of a Hindu sanyasi is something we cannot find anywhere else in the world. Dakshinamurthi says, “Through towns, villages and holy places and through the countryside, I have wandered as one can only do in India; living with the common folk in that very informal way which only they understand. And they have drawn me into their lives and activities till I simply forgot that I belonged to any other place.” Swamiji apprehends that India will be a loser if it follows the western path of material progress. He says, “It seems such a pity to think that modern society will gradually encroach upon this simple natural way of living that still exists in India – the leisurely village life, the innocent belief in supernatural things, the homely communal gatherings, the strong traits of individuality, the intimacy, the passivity towards things that happen, the hidden air of other-worldliness. What a pity it is to be thrown away. India too is moving more and more in the direction of organized, industrialized, formal society, science and hard calculation; and I in the other direction towards detachment, freedom, spontaneity, mysticism and surrender to the unknown – I feel a little sad for the country which has been my spiritual home for all these years.”
Swamiji concludes by saying, “I do not suppose, of course, that India will lose sight entirely of her spiritual values; and perhaps in myself, I will yet check the tendency to become too otherworldly. The departure between us is perhaps part of the rhythmic movement of evolution by which, through the creative contrast of unity and diversity, creation and destruction, joy and sorrow, things grow and grow in that unfathomable, ever-unfolding beauty, which is the purpose of existence.”
In a write up on Swami Dakshinamurti published long back, the Bhavan’s Journal (Volume XIV, No. 10; December 17, 1967) writes – “This young sanyasi from South Africa has been drawn to the Hindu view and way of life. While in his home country he was drawn towards Bhagwad-Gita and Yog-sutras, delivering lectures on them. He was helped by the Hindu organisations in South Africa in travelling to India where he has been roaming like a ‘parivrajak’ from one part of the country to another.”
In the preface to “Yoga”, Swami Dakshinmaurti, Justice (Retd.) Mr. PS Kailasam of Madras High Court wrote in the year 1988, “Since his arrival in India, Lucien has roamed all over the country in search of truth, visiting holy places, meeting Sadhus and reading religious literatures wherever he found them. During these years he has read very deeply all classics like Bhagwad Gita, Patanjali’s Yog-sutras, Narad’s Bhakti Sutras, Upanaishads etc. and gained mastery over them. During his stay in Madurai he took Sanyas diksha and became Swami Dakshinmaurti. God cannot be conceived; that is why we must conceive of God in countless different ways. Consider all the pleasant and painful things present in your life as raw materials which God has put before you and said to you, ‘Now make something beautiful for me out of all this’.
Swamiji expresses himself effectively in his aphorisms. Some of his finest aphorisms are God has put each living being into this world with the sole purpose that each may enrich the world with the unique quality of its own individuality; and this is inevitably accomplished by its very presence in the world, by the way it lives and dies. You may safely assume that what God has in store for you in this universe is far greater than the best that you can imagine. It is sometimes more important to be decisive than it is to be right. If you have not the strength of character to act against those whom you love, you will end up having betrayed them. The fundamental danger and folly of science and technology is that it tends to be a way of gaining the whole world and losing oneself.
True charity is not so much in specialised welfare work as in a readiness to respond to another's need whenever, wherever and whatever it may be, with whatever means and resources one has. Renunciation implies not a dislike for the things of this world but a realization that they are so beautiful and perfect that they should all be offered to God.
-Dr Shakti Kumar Pandey (The writer is a senior journalist)