Cherubic by nature Swami Pragyanand Maharaj is an unforgettable smiling face. Though a saint who kept his distance and maintained the maryada that was part of the disposition of Hindu saints, he had endeared himself to all of us in the Art of Living ashram. There was a personal connect. He reminded me of my Tatha(grandfather).
I always liked to see his smiling face. He had a very innocent side to his personality , which got revealed in many of his questions and talks. Sometimes we could almost predict what he would say next… “Jo deekhta hai vo hai nahin” was a phrase which would dot his every conversation. His sense of humour would make everybody laugh. He was always filled with anecdotes.
When with our Master,H.H.Sri Sri Ravishankar ji, he would ask questions like all of us, except that they were related to the vedas, puranas and were provocative. His prolific knowledge on the vedas
would get reflected in his dialogues with my Master. Sometimes I had seen my Master act
as his disciple too. It would be enchanting to listen to the dialogue between them. My Master would always bring out a different dimension to every shloka recited by Swamiji.
There was a strange love between them. Almost like that of friends or as brothers if you may. Swamiji loved Bhanu Ma and his fondness for her would reflect in his eyes as her dainty steps would move towards him and her hands would fold into a pranaam. The respect and fondness for Swami Pragyanand Maharaj was reciprocated both by Bhanu Ma and Gurudev.
Swamiji loved staying in our ashram. He would however go to the northern part of India to spend some moments near the ganges. Whilst in the ashram, all our satsangs would have the knowledge component delivered by Maharaj. He would begin by chanting “Narayan, Narayan, Narayan, Narayan”…4 times before he started and he would end with the same words. It had become such a routine that as soon as he would enter the hall, the audience would break into a chant…Narayan,Narayan….
The morning sessions with Swamiji were a learning too. From him we have heard the Tripura rahasya and several different scriptures. I also remember the moments he has spent with us during Shivratri and Navratri. He too would echo Gurudevs teachings that love was the essence and the core of our existence.
Today he is no more. Seeing his body lying unmoved was a shaking experience and an awakening to the reality that we would all succumb to the same fate one day. The meaningless of all that we do, the trivialities, the mundane was a startling reality. To see his two boys Hari and Narayan do the rituals of their Master with whom they have lived and grown up was touching.
Somewhere as my eyes closed with the chantings of the Gita reverberating in the background, I felt that this was not a reality too. An illusion just like his presence was an illusion. What was the source of all this illusion? Why this illusion? My thoughts looked out for answers in the teachings he had taught.
Jo deekhta hai vo hain nahin….I reminiscence.
Pranams and love to our Swami Pragyanand Maharaj.
We love you. You are unforgettable.