AIM for Seva

To Pujya Swami Omkaranandaji: A Tribute

It is with immense sadness that we share the news of Swami Omkaranandaji attaining Mahasamadhi on 10 May 2021 (at 5.40 p.m.). He was a strong advocate of Hindu Dharama, a spiritual guide and well-wisher of AIM for Seva. Swami Omkaranandaji was a received Sanyasa Diksha from Pujya Swami Chidbhavananda, the founder of the Sri Ramakrishna Tapovanam, Thirupparaithurai. Swami Omkaranandaji studied Vedanta under Swami Paramarthananda, one of the foremost disciples of Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati, under whom he studied in depth the various Vedantic scriptures, in a traditional manner. In Vedapuri, Theni, Swami Omkaranandaji has established an Ashram in the name of Parama Pujya Swami Chidbhavananda. Through his spiritual discourses, he spread the Vedantic teachings, in spiritual camps held across the globe.

We share here a heartfelt tribute by Swami Suddananada Saraswati, a senior disciple of Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati, and close friend of Swami Omkaranandaji. Hari Om.

Tomorrow, the 11th May morning Sun will not see the Son of the Sages rising from sleep to do the Pratah Smaranam, the Dhyanam, the soulful chanting of the ancient Veda mantras. Nor shall it see the Glorious Son of the Sages doing the elaborate worship of the Dakshinamurthy, the Adi Guru of the Creation and then move around the antebasis, the loving, adoring Ashram residents and crowds, to offer them not only the Prasad of the God, but also sharing the wisdom of the Ancients with a smile that is innocent and a laughter that is in the words of Kalidasa, धूर्जटेः अट्टहास्यः, the laughter of Shiva!

That Son of the Sages IS very near and dear Swami Omkaranandaji, who Was and Shall Be Eternally Present in the land He walked, the river in which He bathed, the air He breathed, the space that held Him, the trees He planted, the shelters He built and most importantly the lives of the people He touched and shaped – ALWAYS and all with a perpetual smile!

I had seen him first ever time when He was a resident student with Swami Paramarthanandaji, learning the Vedanta Shastra from a very learned and capable traditional Guru. He always held Respected Paramarthanandaji in the highest esteem. It was like the river meeting the ocean. Both of them had similar background and they clicked with each other in perfect harmony. Since He was already a student of the Vedas, familiar with the traditional chanting and the art of worship, it was a natural shift to the Vedantic Wisdom – that, too, at the feet of a Teacher who had the privilege of being groomed by Poojya Swamiji Dayanandaji, who was the embodiment of the Upanishadic wisdom. Poojya Swamiji Dayanandaji perpetuated the Guru Parampara as upheld by Acharya Shankara to keep the unique yet the universal way of transmitting the Wisdom, the Atma Vidya. When the revered Shankaracharyas of both Kanchi and Shringeri had total admiration for Poojya Swamiji, Sringeri Acharya recognised the great traditional teaching of Poojya Swamiji by conferring on Him the First ever Shankaracharya Sammana.

Respected Swami Omkaranandaji perpetuated that link with the Shankara Maths, upholding a hoary tradition, while moving around with people who were exposed to the modern day educational systems also. When I met him for the first time, I was introduced to his traditional ways and I really loved it. Whenever we met, I would ask him to chant the Upanishads and he would happily do so. I remember onetime He had come to Tiruvannamalai sometime in 1990s and we all went for Girivalam. Since He knew I loved His chanting, He started the chanting from the moment we stepped into the Girivalam road from our Ashram and continued chanting. Sometime we would sit down on the road side under the trees and then He would chant. Those were the beautiful nights of walking around the Arunachala…

Once, He had come to the Uthandi Ashram. Someone had given me a gold-plated Shivalingam. I was keeping it more as an collector’s item as I did not know the ways of worshipping it. When He came visiting me with Sri Viswanathan from Hongkong, I happily offered the gift of an icon to Him, as He was the right person to have it. He named it as the Swarnakaliswara and kept for the pooja in Theni Ashram. When later I visited Vedapuri, He showed me the Shivalingam He was worshipping. I had taken two special plants from Odisha and we planted those in the Ashram. Whenever we talked over the phone, He would tell me how the trees were growing.

It so happened, people whom I knew in my frequent travels to different countries became his students also and that brought us still closer. I had total admiration for his very traditional upbringing and He had that open admiration for my open friendliness. I was ten years older to him. As even I and our dear Paramarthanandaji were very friendly from our Chennai Chinmaya Foundation days, that friendship continued with Swami Omkaranandaji too.

Because of His mastery over traditional ways of worship, not only did He arrange the rituals to be conducted by a great number of priests for Poojya Swamiji’s 80th Birthday organised in Coimbatore, but also He was there for the Samadhi of many mahatmas who attained Mahasamadhi.

As I am writing this, sitting on the roof top of my Chennai Ashram under the starlit sky, in the absence of the light, because of the temporary electricity failure, I am aware, in that distant landscape of Theni, the Son of the Sage will have His Samadhi, in the middle of the night, not to be confined to a small space but to belong, at once, to the entire Existence, the Paramdham, where there the Sun never shines. Neither the Moon nor the stars shine there. Once Being there, there is no question of returning!

न तत्भासयते सूर्यः न शशाङ्को न पावकः

यद्गत्वा न निवर्तन्ते तद्धाम परमं मम

Cannot say, Farewell my Friend! As we are Inseparable in the Absolute. You were, are and shall ever be there. We all your friends and admirers were, are and shall ever be there. God (the Truth) Was, Is and Shall be ever there. Never shall it ever happen that we shall ever cease to exist!

न त्वेवाहं जातु नासं न त्वं नेमे जनाधिपाः

न चैव न भविष्यामः सर्वे वयम् अतः परम्

Therefore Friend, when tomorrow’s Sun rises, it will surely not see you walking your path. But it shall continue to shine in You, for You, in total deference to you as even the Air will continue to blow, the Fire will continue to burn, the God of gods and the senses will continue to rule and out of sheer Reverence to you, the Death shall continue to run non-stop…

भीषास्मात् वातः पवते।भीषोदेति सूर्यः। भीषास्मात् अग्निइन्द्रश्च। मृत्यु र्धावति पञ्चमः इति

lt was not your time to return. Covid is a terrorist and it hits everything and every person for no fault of theirs. You did not deserve this accidental departure like millions others now in this world.

But then, Friend, who can ever deny you the Immortality… मृत्योः मुक्षिय माऽमृतात्

You are free from the change, the death. But never from Immortality.

A generation shall remember you and then you shall be passed on from one generation to another for the time, life, laughter and the wisdom you shared with them.

May your wishes and the dreams be fulfilled by the generation next! You were a friend and a great younger brother. I always felt that brotherly love and admiration. We walked together many a steps in many decades of life. I will miss you! You shall be missed by all the friends who walked together in the footsteps of Poojya Swamiji’s life and Teachings.

– Swami Suddhananda Saraswati