Beating one’s own drum is worldly outlook. Beating oneself into shape is spiritual effort. – Chinmaya
The one virtue glorified in all scriptures, in all religions, by all saints and sages of all times, is humility.
The Bible says, “He (The Lord) leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way”.
How to practice it?
‘Beat oneself into shape’ is the answer given above. Swami Shivananda Saraswathi, the founder of Divine Life Society, is considered one of the greatest yogis of the 20thcentury. It is indeed educative to learn how he cultivated this virtue of humility. The following self-instructions were found in one of the diaries of Swamiji:
“Serve the untouchables, the scavengers and the inferiors; eat from the hands of Muslims; clean the clothes of sadhus; do prostrations to all; return good for evil; live on alms bearing abuse, insult and injury; Give up Brahmana- Sannyaasa abhimaan and Vairagya-tyaaga abhimaan.”
Swamiji was very fond of Namaskara Sadhana. He prostrated to men of all kinds; even to birds and animals. He prostrated before his own disciples, to householder devotees and pilgrims who came for his darshan.
Once Maharaja Sahib of Tehri came to the ashram and took the blessings by prostrating to Swamiji. Swamiji, in turn, touched his feet, in front of his own devotees and followers.
Other orthodox ashrams and sannyasis took serious objection to this. But his response was, “I see the Lord in all. Hence I prostrate to all.”
He never allowed others to touch his feet. As one of the devotees puts it, “It was always a race; who ran faster and touched the other’s feet – Swamiji or we!”
Swamiji took great delight in serving the sadhus. He would wash mahatmas’ clothes and fetch water for them from Ganga. When they were ill, he would render them medical aid, massage their feet, attend on them, and bring them their bhiksha.
On special occasions, like Swamiji’s birthday etc., a lot of people would come and garland him with flower, brocade and sandalwood garlands. He would suffer all that to satisfy the devotees. When the whole thing would get over, he would go inside his kutir and sit in a corner of his bathroom. With a pair of old shoes which he had, he would beat his head and thus admonish his mind, “Big teacher! Flower, garlands, adoration. Now take a little sample of this also!”
Every year, an I.C.S officer, Sri Pannalal, used to come to Rishikesh to visit Swami Tapovan Maharaj. On his way back he would visit Swamiji. Once, after the meeting with Swamiji was over, Sri Pannalal stepped out. In those days such a high officer would not stir out without a peon. This peon, who used to assist in putting on his shoes, was somewhere away. The officer looked for him this side and that side. Swamiji immediately sized up the situation, took the shoes and promptly placed them at his feet. The officer’s blushed face was worth watching at that time!
In 1953, Parliament of World Religions was organized by Divine Life Society. Representatives from various religions came to attend the function. Swamiji spoke in English. In the next session, a sannyasi rose to speak. He was a very stout and aggressive personality. He started roaring in Sanskrit continuously for 10-15 minutes. To make sure that all would understand, he afterwards switched over to Hindi. In his thundering, forceful speech, he outrightly abused Swami Shivanandji left and right, in front of about one thousand distinguished people.
He said, “It was utmost foolishness, a big blemish and an action contrary to Hindu religion and tradition for a sannyasi, staying in Uttarakhand, on the banks of the holy Ganga, to speak in a foreign, alien, polluted language…” He went on with his direct tirade on Swamiji, without speaking on any other subject.
Swami Shivanandji, who was regarded with such high reverence by all, that within a few minutes the whole audience became restless. Words were sent from the audience to stop the speech, to remove the sannyasi from the stage and to cut-off the microphone connection. Though the disciples of Swamiji were also fuming with anger, they dared not do anything for fear of Swamiji’s displeasure.
All through the bitter talk, Swamiji’s face was absolutely calm and serene, without a single ripple or ruffle in his mind. He was seated like a Buddha, completely unperturbed. After the sannyasi had spent all his force panting and fuming, he resumed to sit.
Before anything could be done Swami Shivanandaji immediately got up, went to the microphone and spoke in Hindi, “We are most grateful, most thankful to Swamiji Maharaj for having told us the right thing indeed. Sanskrit is the Devabhasha, and there is no language in the whole world to equal Sanskrit. We congratulate him for his command over the divine language. Hindi, being the national language is next to Devabhasha in importance. His suggestion is indeed very, very correct and timely. We are most grateful to him for giving us this advice.” And he went on praising the sannyasi expressing gratitude and thanks.
The sannyasi felt most uncomfortable. It was as though a fully inflated balloon was pricked by a pin. Like how the speedily charging wrestler coming in full force falls flat when the opponent steps aside! He had expected some applause; some reaction. But nothing came.
Annihilate the ego and awaken to divinity, say the scriptures. According to the famous equation:
God + ego = man; Man – ego = God.
Swamiji used to say, “The complete annihilation of the ego is possible only after a very, very intense and atom-bomb like powerful sadhana. So go to the place where you are not respected, but you are humiliated, abused and insulted. Deliberately go to the place where people are likely to make fun of you. Bear all insults calmly.”
When we beat ourselves to shape, the world beats the drums. But when we beat our drums, the world beats us to shape!
The choice is ours!!
O M T A T S A T
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