Daijiworld Media Network - Mangaluru (DV)
Mangaluru, Feb 16: The coastal region of Karnataka is a hub of divinity with scores of places of worship that are not just visited by devotees but by tourists from across the world as well. Each of these places of worship is headed by spiritual ascetics who guide the faithful and set an example with their simplicity and earnest devotion. But rarely do we know or understand the long journey that brought them to where they are and the discipline and sacrifices it took to get there.
Sri Sri Sri Mohandas Paramahamsa Swami of Mahalaxmi Temple, Manila, in an in-depth interview with Daijiworld editor-in-chief, Walter Nandalike on Daijiworld 24x7 channel's 'Yatishreshtaru' programme, speaks about his life before he took 'Sanyasa'.
Sri Sri Sri Mohandas Paramahamsa Swami is well-known for treating everyone in the society equally with the motto of 'Sarve Janaha Sukino Bhavanthu'. He has won the hearts of people from across sections, for striving to wipe out untouchability, raising voice against suppression of lower caste and his struggle against social evils at the grassroots.
DW: Swamiji, how was your life before you took Sanyasa?
Swamiji: Generally, people ask me how I became a Swamiji, though, this is an unanswered question. In life, people have their own expectations. When you ask children, what is your goal, they give a variety of answers, but no one will say 'I want to become Swamiji'. People are not ready to dedicate their life to society. Since childhood, I had a goal to serve the country or the society. I even completed training and joined service in the Indian Air Force. I had to return home due to the unprecedented death of my sister. During my training in the Air Force, I had been to a hilly region in Odisha, where I saw superstitious beliefs being practised by the tribals there. That changed my mind. I used to think what made them get addicted to bad habits. I was born and brought up in the city, even my education was in the city. In those days suppression of lower class and untouchability were major challenges in society. Later, I decided that I should go to a village and work for the suppressed class and fight against untouchability. I had read books on the life of Sri Narayana Guru, Adi Shankaracharya and other saints. Finally, after reading these books, I realised that untouchability and bad habits were a menace to society.
DW: Was your family well-to-do?
Swamiji: My father was a freedom fighter. We had a rice mill. My father had concern for the country, society and the poor. He gave more prominence to animal husbandry. My father was also in touch with the father of the present Dharmadhikari of Dharmasthala.
DW: Where did you complete your basic education?
Swamiji: I did my primary and high school education in Canara school in Dongarakeri and completed my BCom from St Aloysius College. I later joined the Air Force but I could serve there only for three years. After the death of my sister, I could not return.
DW: What led you to practice spirituality? Did any saint inspire you or was the voice from within?
Swamiji: I started thinking deeply about suppression and untouchability. I felt that only spirituality can solve the problem. After coming to Manila, I realised everything.
DW: When did you come to Manila?
Swamiji: I came to Manila following a problem reported at a house. One of the family members invited me over a good cause. When I was preparing to return, people in the village asked me to stay back. Those days, there were several problems including blind beliefs, black magic and bad habits in this village. I still love all people in Manila. Everyone which includes people who opposed or criticized me. Today, many changes have taken place. Overall, I would like to say that it is possible to build a healthy society only because of villages. Here, there is serenity and beauty, clean drinking water and pure milk.
DW: How did you find your guru?
Swamiji: I had read the life history of Avadootha Nithyananda Swamiji. His life helped me understand spirituality. It gave me power physically, spiritually and morally. My devotion towards him helped me grow. Later, I met Swami Bootheshananda of Belur Math at Kolkata and sought 'Guru Deeksha', but he refused. He said he will visit me when the right time comes. When he visited Ramakrishna Mission in Mangaluru for the second time, he gave ‘Deeksha’ and asked me to be independent and work for the society.
DW: How did you turn this village into a prosperous one?
Swamiji: More than me, people here put vigorous efforts to turn this village into a prosperous place. Earlier, people from the Billawa community and other low castes were not allowed into Vishnumurthy temple in Manila village. I had never witnessed such a situation in cities. I started thinking over the existence of those indifferences. Once I had an opportunity to visit the temple. I noticed a few people standing outside the temple. Later, I invited them to come inside the temple. A few hesitated, but nearly 60% of the people did what I said. This incident changed the course of the village. Those days, people used to go to arrack shop and get involved in cockfights every Saturday. They used to return to their homes empty handed wasting their money on cockfights. The husbands also used to harass their wives. In this regard, a few women complained to me. When I intervened and requested to stop cockfight events, the villagers agreed. Manila gave power to 'Sadhana'. I love everyone. Christians or Muslims have never created a problem for me or hurt me. They treat me with respect and I too treat them in the same manner.
DW: When you decided to get into spiritual life, what was the opinion of your parents?
Swamiji: My mother supported me a lot. My brothers felt that I should continue my studies. My elder brother has secured 8 degrees. He worked as the AGM in Union Bank of India. When I got involved too much in spiritual activities, they did not like it. It is because of my mother's support, I could achieve what I am today. She always used to tell me not to hurt anyone or create problems for others.
DW: Will there be instances of happiness and sorrow in the life of a sage? Could you share such instances with our viewers?
Swamiji: I have strived hard to unite a family. I have faced several challenges fighting for good causes. I am concerned about the country and present system. Differences between religions also worries me. All my dedication and commitment has been to bring change in the society. I have never expected anything for myself. I have made efforts to reach every house in the village.
DW: What is your message to our viewers?
Swamiji: We should quit bad habits and inculcate good habits. Bad habits include jealousy, ill-treating others, criticising and speaking badly about others which is increasing in the society. We should love everyone. Hating others on the basis of religion, caste and community is not fair. Everything that comes to us is from nature. This is the spirituality of India.
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