May 2021

To give love to all others is the only way to enrich life as nothing else can.   
– Chinmaya

The power of love is unbelievable. There are innumerable instances in the history of mankind to prove this fact. One such incident is given below.

It was 8th January 1950. The night Satsang was in progress in the Bhajan Hall of Swami Shivanandji’s Ashram at Rishikesh.  It was fairly dark in the Bhajan Hall as, during the Kirtan, even the lantern which is used for reading of Gita, etc. is reduced and put aside. The two lamps which shone brightly on the either side of the main altar were able to illumine only a third of the Hall, leaving the entrance to the Hall dark.

Through the dark entrance approached a dark force. Govindan approached Swamiji, axe in hand. He did not have to take much trouble  to approach Swamiji , who was sitting just next to the entrance.

The axe was raised. The devatas shuddered in the heavens. And the axe fell. Indra, the presiding deity of Govindan’s hand trembled. The axe missed its mark. The door which received the blow cried aloud its warning.

Govindan became more nervous. He raised the axe again. This time a picture on the wall stood in front and received the blow. The two blows missed the mark. Only the wooden handle of the axe struck Swamiji’s head. Generally, as soon as Swamiji enters the hall, he would remove the cloth turban he wears when he leaves his Kutir (during the winter months). But, today, he forgot. So the axe-handle could strike only the cloth-padding on Swamiji’s head.

Swamiji ‘woke up’ to the fact that someone was trying to assault him. He thought it was a stick with which he was being beaten. He raised the hand and said, “Have you finished the job? Do you want to beat me more?”

The raised hand received the axe, and the axe made a mark on the skin. It was no more than a scratch.

Vishnuswamiji (who was an adept in Hatha Yoga) who was sitting near Swamiji got up in one leap and hugged

Govindan so tightly that the latter could not lift his hand again. Vishnuswamiji dragged Govindan out of the hall.

The crowd in the Bhajan Hall immediately realised what had happened. One or two people helped Govindan’s hands and feet to be tied. As is natural in the case of gatherings, one or two people fell on the assailant and started beating him. Padmanabhan who was in the yajnashala room heard Swamiji shouting at the top of his voice: “Ohji! Don’t beat him! Please don’t beat him!”

Padmanabhan  rescued Govindan and the latter was taken to a room nearby and locked in.

“Continue the Kirtan,” said Swamiji, and the Kirtan, Arati and Shanti Paath were duly conducted and the Satsang came to a close.

Some of the Ashramites  ran to the police station, got a couple of constables to follow them and ran to the Bhajan Hall. All rejoiced that Swamiji escaped practically unhurt. The only thing which hurt them was that there could be someone in the world breathing as man who could even think of doing such a thing which Govindan had done.

All believed firmly that the Lord himself was protecting Swamiji.  Govindan was lying in wait for Swamiji in the morning. He knew that Swamiji generally came along all way from his Kutir to the Bhajan Hall, for the morning class. Swamiji would then be entirely undefended. It would be an easy job for the assailant. But… Swamiji did not come! Ashramites wondered whether Swamiji was alright in health. He was alright.

Govindan made a couple of circumambulations of the Bhajan Hall, impatiently waiting for Swamiji. Govindan never used to stir out of his room before 9 a.m. when he would stir in bed. For one day he attended the morning Satsang and did Kirtan also in the early morning hours; though it was the devil who gave him the opportunity.

At night too, Swamiji would have removed his turban. But Swamiji himself did not know why he did not remove the turban only that day!

Govindan had calculated the distance between the door and Swamiji’s head and adjusted the axe aright in the first instance; but forgot to take count of the projection of the Bhajan Hall door. When the first blow missed its mark  he became conscious of this factor; but when he went nearer his mark he forgot to re-adjust the axe and so missed the mark again.

Indeed the Lord Himself was protecting Swamiji!

After the Kirtan, the ashramites went from the Bhajan Hall to the room in which Govindan was kept. The rope that bound his feet together was removed. He stood up, guarded on both sides by policemen. The crowd watched. Swamiji went straight to Govindan, and bowed to him with folded palms. The police Inspector gazed at this scene in great wonderment.

“Govindaswami, do you want to deal some more blows? Here I am. Kindly satisfy yourself.”

Govindan muttered: “No. I don’t want to beat you anymore. I am satisfied.”

Swamiji enquired lovingly, “What harm did I do? Why did you get so angry with me?” For this there was no reply.

The crowd gradually dispersed and gathered near Swamiji’s Kutir.

“What shall I do Swamiji? Shall I register a case against this man?” Asked the police Inspector.

“No, no. Just send him away from Muni-ki-reti. That is enough,” said Swamiji and went back to his Kutir only to be greeted by an endless stream of visitors, and that too at that hour of the night! Many men and women of the locality were literally in tears when they saw Swamiji. But Swamiji coolly sat, smiling radiantly.

Aged Swami Achintyanandji with his walking stick, ran to Swamiji’s Kutir to dress his wounds.

The next day, it was decided that Govindan should be provided with two Ashramite-escorts and left on the Grand Trunk Express with a ticket to Salem, his native place.

Swamiji was absolutely against booking any case against Govindan.

Swamiji said: “No. We should not punish him. He only worked out my Prarabdha.  Do you mean to say that anything would happen without His will behind it? No,no. It was the Lord’s will. The Lord only prompted Govindan to do what he did. Are ‘dyutam Chhalayataam asmi’ and ‘taskaraanaam pataye’ mere words? Does not the same omnipresent Lord indwell the robber and the dacoit, the murderer and the burglar? No, no. I will not let the police charge Govindan. We should thank him for working out my Prarabdha so easily.”

“The Lord has spared my life because  there is some more service to be performed through this body. I must go on with that service. That is all that this incident indicates to me.”

Swamiji  went to the police station at about 11 a.m. with fruits, books, clothes, new blanket and Japa Mala. With his own hands he applied Kumkum and Bhasma on Govindan’s forehead. Swamiji then prostrated to Govindan. Others present there were aghast at this sight. Swamiji then gave the books with his autographed blessings.

“May Lord bless you with health, long life, peace, prosperity, devotion, wisdom and Kaivalya!”saying this,  Swamiji then initiated Govindan into Ashtakshari Mantra, gave him the Japa Mala and the book and gave the following advice:

“Kindly repeat the Lord’s name incessantly. Do regular and vigorous Japa. Forget all that happened. Only take care that the mind does not run into the old vicious grooves again, and that you are not impelled to commit the same mistakes over again.

“Please read good spiritual books. Do not mix with bad characters. The latent spirituality will become patent through Sadhana. Spirituality is latent in you now. If it was not at all there, you would not have come here.

“I have asked Sashwat Swamiji and Purushottamji to accompany you till Agra and provide you with all comforts and conveniences during the journey. From Agra, you will get a ticket for Salem. Kindly write to me as soon as you reach Salem. Please write to me frequently about your welfare and your sadhana. May God bless you.”

Swamiji then repeated ‘Om Namo Narayanaya’ several times and made Govindan also repeat the sacred Mantra.

Special dishes, like Rasam etc., were prepared and given to Govindan before his departure.

Swamiji then wrote a note to the police Inspector that he did not want to proceed against Govindan in any manner and that the police might drop the incident out of their minds.

In the evening there was a Thanksgiving Service and prayer for the long life of Swamiji in the Bhajan Hall. It was arranged by Sri Gauri Prasad of Swarga Ashram. The gathering chanted the Maha Mantra in chorus, and the hall was filled with the vibrations of the Maha Mrtyunjaya Mantra which was chanted aloud by the entire gathering. Swamiji then distributed Prasad with his own hands.

On 19th February 1950, Swamiji received a Tamil letter from Govindan, which said:

“I have reached Salem safely. I am grateful to you Gurudev for what you have done. I pray that any other pitfalls that may beset my path of life may also be removed by your Holiness’s grace. I am your humble disciple.”

When Swamiji had read the letter, he said to the Ashramite who was the postal-in-charge: “Please put Govindan’s name on the Magazine Free List. Include his address in the Prasad Register also. All free literature should be sent to him. I will send him books also. I will write to him to come again.”

Swamiji’s supreme love had transformed Govindan, the murderer, into a good soul.

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