The friend, philosopher and guide
Kandukuri Sivananda Murthy
It is difficult to be the friend of the masses, the guide of the spiritual aspirant and a philosopher par excellence at the same time. Sadguru K. Sivananda Murthy of Anandavan in Bheemunipatnam is that and much more. He is a happy blend of Sanatana Dharma and `yogakshemam'. On one hand he is a scholar with a grip on every aspect of life, and on the other he is like the innocent child expressing his deepest concerns on matters of patriotic interest.
``Anandavan'' as the name implies is a haven of peace and the serene ambience speaks volumes about its architect who resides within. The Sadguru had a turbulent childhood. He was born into a zamindar family. But that was the time when his father was consistently losing court cases in the Privy Council and his estate, and the lad soon realised the transitory nature and `maya' (illusion) of wealth. To his young mind, the picture was clear that money is the root cause of all of man's problems. He had the software within him to ferret out this truth, and chose to relinquish his home and riches. He set out to eke out his own destiny. Armed with only a basic degree and a good communication skill, young Sivananda walked into the office of the Inspector-General of Police for a job. To him this IG, Gen. Khot, who had an illustrious background during the Telangana uprising, was the hero who could lead him on in life. The IG was impressed with the boy's regal stature and genuine interest to work. Thus Sivananda became an employee of the Police Department till the day he retired from service.
A voracious reader, he had spent 23 years from the age of ten in assimilating the knowledge of 13,000 books from his father's library, and this penchant is his greatest strength. He even remembers reading the covers of sweet packets if he had nothing else to read. Thus he is a knowledge bank in English, Telugu and Sanskrit.
The last few years in service saw him mature into a symbol of Gnana and he was the softer aspect of the tough policeman. Colleagues would gather around him for information, advice and education, and Sivananda always felt the pulse of their every requirement. He was the perfect gentleman whose enchanting smiles matched the toughness of the policemen.
Sivananda was in his final year of degree when India woke up to Independence. August 15, 1947, remains etched in his mind. The entire country was celebrating freedom, but for him it was the day of mourning. Our country had been split into two and the Hindu-Muslim instability and gruesome massacres on the border only foretold the future unrest. He strongly believes even today that the Independence Day should be mourned and not celebrated.
``It is the bloodshed, violence, hatred and intolerance that divides the nation even today. The circumstances of the division of India still remain,'' he points out, ''the Hindus have a natural sense of tolerance - this quality is a virtue where human values are concerned but a weakness when politics and material life are concerned. That is why the Indian system had the Brahmin and the Kshatriya or valour and wisdom together. This essence is now lost. We have now to wake up people from their deep slumber. Most of the new generation have lost their respect for their religious identities. This apathy, selfishness and attitude of living in our cocoons is leading the original Aryan Hindu into the pits. We are ignorant and have strayed from our tradition because of our education system. The neo-intellectuals look down on traditions as bunkum.''
Commenting on the border situation, the Sadguru strongly feels: "Our enemies will teach us tolerance, but we should not tolerate intolerance from them.'' Remembering the brutal attack by Ghazni and the way in which he was so easily pardoned by the Hindu king reiterates the fact that Indian history is replete with this ideation. And Ghazni showed his gratitude in being pardoned by repeatedly attacking and destroying the same kingdom. "Disagreement is the way of the world. Don't hurt or destroy. And this also means don't destroy your self-esteem or hurt your religion. Hypocrisy is the key factor that is destroying our country. Schizophrenia and the split personality of every citizen are ruining us. People should learn to speak to the dictates of their conscience. India is an ancient brand...it is nothing more, nothing less. Our constant effort should be to uphold the tenets of this brand.''
He has travelled all over the country, trained his own devotees and performed almost 300 yagnams for the welfare of mankind. Not even a rupee was collected from anyone. "Charity was never institutionalised in India as it is being done today. In fact, there seems to be no charity at all! You are only repaying.'' True to the spirit of his words, he has been charitable in every sense of the term.
The religious disturbances in most parts of India are because most Indians have stopped understanding the limits of responsibility. The Sadguru's advice to youth is that they should read between the lines. "Always compare two reports and learn to discriminate. Understand the motive of the language used and always use logic. Question every aspect, weed out, and only then accept. The youth of today are susceptible because of their readiness to be misled.''
The Sadguru is critical of the lack of citizenship which, in his opinion, is the major cause for the present malaise. Here too, he shows the way by functioning as an active citizen in every possible way, as the perfect blend of antiquity and modernity. He wears a number of caps: a successful homeopath, he behaves only as a doctor to his patients; to those who come to him for astrological consultation, he responds only as an astrologer; as the scholar beyond compare he is the expert on the Vedanta and Sastras and the nuances of spiritual India come naturally to him; he is also a good choreographer with a flair for creativity and had presented the Ashtapathi from Jayadeva's 'Geet Govind' with his devotees on many platforms; to the ardent spiritual seeker, he is the master.
He is widely travelled and the highlight of many an event. His impeccable speech and profound knowledge on different themes cast a spell on the audience. He is the expert on Indian culture, heritage and Dharma and has a number of devotees from all walks of life, including the late Vice President of India, Krishan Kant. Inspired by him, poet Sirivenella Sitaram Sastry, in his latest dedication, describes the Sadguru as "Vilasaanga Sivananda Lahiri''.
Indeed, Sadguru Sivananda Murthy is a whiff of fresh air amidst our crumbling cultural and traditional systems. He is a kindly father or an irrepressible friend or a dear uncle to anyone. In short, he is a beacon of good hope happily beaming radiantly from neighbouring Bhimili.
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