Life's of Swami Tilak Ji maharaj

SWAMI TILAK

By Sr.Serjio Carrillo of Mexico

 

ASHRAM

 

Sri Bajarangadas Kuti is a small Ashram or Monastery located alongside Narmada River in a remote place of Madhya Pradesh, in Central India.

It was founded at the beginning of the 20th century, probably in the thirties, when a saddhu (renouncer) called Sri Bajarangadas, Swami Tilak´s Master, came to that place and built a hut (kuti) as a shelter against weather inclemency.

His austerity and his knowledge of Auyrvedic Medicine began to be known everywhere and attracted countrymen from small towns nearby, who were in search of material and spiritual healing. Although there was lack of material means, his generosity was proverbial and from that time on he was called Baba, which means grandfather.

In India, there is an ancient habit of walking around Narmada Sacred River (Parikrama). Due to the long extension of Narmada, this peregrination starting from its origin till its mouth and then all the way back, crossing to the other side of the river, can last, at least, three or four years and is done by saddhus and ordinary people, too.

The ashrams alongside Narmada River have the tradition of lodging these pilgrims. Although its limited resources, Sri Bajarangadas Kuti has always offered its generosity towards all travelers and, eventually, some saddhus spend some time there, or stay for good.

Swami Tilak, for instance, who was Sri Bajarangadas´ main disciple, arrived at the Kuti in 1960 and stayed there for six months, assimilating his teachings and beginning to spread his Guru Bajarangadas´ ideas in India and all over the world.

People`s gratitude transformed the humble original ashram huts in solid constructions made of bricks and roofing tiles, later rebuilt in cement.

Undoubtedly, Sri Bajarangadas Kuti never lost the sense of austerity and service, qualities of its founder. It offers, regularly, health services for people living in the surrounding small villages. It also developed (created) a publishing house to disseminate Swami Tilak´s works in English, Sanskrit and Hindi.

When Sri Baba Bajarangadas Maharaj and Swami Tilak passed away, the Ashram began to be run by Swami Nitya, a disciple of both of them.

AN ASCETIC ADOLESCENT

Swami Tilak was born on September, the 8th, 1929, in Delhi. He was named after Lokamanya Gangadara Tilak, an important political leader in (for) the Independence of India.

His father was a famous engraver and an expert in the History and Archeology of India. He imposed a severe discipline upon his only son Tilak, in order to transform him into an exemplary man.

Besides Tilak´s hard education, his family went through economic issues, after his father´s serious illness. All these facts determined Tilak´s ascetic character towards adversities. Tilak´s mother was a devoted woman and she gave Tilak an example of compassion, humility and tolerance, in opposition to his father´s hard ways.

There was a time when they had no food to eat, so she cooked some herbs to appease his hunger, but Tilak went into a rage mood and threw his dish on the floor saying: “Is this all your God can offer to us, The God whom you are devoted to?”  She scolded him: “Oh, boy! What do you know about God? He is not responsible for our karma. Our sufferings are the result of our actions in previous lives”.

Since he was a boy, Tilak insisted on sleeping on the floor and did not accept to wear new clothes or new shoes.  Even unintentionally, his father had contributed to create this tendency in his son and also his appreciation in reading Yogis´ biographies, which turned out to be examples followed by Tilak.

In India, the children had to undertake adult responsibilities since very early in their lives.

Tilak´s father intended to set up for his wedding since he was a boy, a custom in India. But Tilak wanted to be an ascetic and this ruined their relationship more and more. Because of this situation, Tilak had to look for shelter in some friends’ houses many times.

Tilak was a good and restless student, with a great capacity of leadership, remembered by his friends for his generosity. He entered the Rashtriya Swayamsevaka Sangah (RSS) when he was a young man. This organization was founded in 1920 to promote the union among the Hinduists, traditionally divided by  caste, sect and language and to strengthen them in face of other religions. This organization was based on Swayamsevakas cells, or nation servers, distributed all over India, formed by Hinduist men who received physical and civic instruction and did social work in hard times.      

Soon, Tilak turned out to be the RSS´s group leader, a reason for a new conflict with his father, who was a political opponent of the RSS and followed the steps of Mahatma Gandhi and his conciliatory policy with the Muslims.

One day, Parmar Ji, his father, gave Tilak an ultimatum: if he did not quit the activities in the Sangah (Community), he had to leave home.

Tilak went away (abandoned his home) and started to live at the Organization offices.

In 1947, The Independence of India broke the whole Country apart with chaos and violence. The Civil War atrocities reaffirmed Tilak´s decision of fighting for the strengthening of Hinduism Principles, as a Universalist and tolerant Culture.

Gandhi´s murder, on January the 3rd, 1948, and the consequent Country division made the Government prohibit the RSS activities under the pretense of complicity in the murder.

The Sangah directors, the instructors and a great amount of the members were put in jail. Tilak and other colleagues were conducted to the Central Prison, in the District of Etah, and from there they were transferred to Fatergarh. After six months in prison, the Swayamsevakas were released, although their activities continued to be forbidden.

Tilak left Kasganj and began to study graduation in Agra. As the RSS judgment was indefinitely delayed, the Organization directors called their members to begin their activities again, as a protest against the judicial process slowness.  

The Government answer was to put thousands of Swayamsevakas into jail again, including Tilak. They stayed in jail for six months more, until the Supreme Court decided in favor of the RSS innocence and let them exercise their public activities in a definite way(from that day on).      

RENUNCIATION

Tilak went back to Agra to go on with his studies and to organize a branch of RSS. He slept where he could, he studied during the night with the public illumination and he ate as much as he could with the money earn giving private Tuitions. So, he finished his course in Masters Degree in History and began his PhD.

On the other hand, during RSS meetings, he began to develop his brilliant oratory capacity. In 1954, he became Editor of RSS´s weekly cultural magazine, Panchajanya. That made him leaves behind his PhD. when he was nearly concluding it. He went to Lucknow to work for that magazine department, earning a symbolic income, only to allow him to eat and rent a place to live in.

Besides calling great cultural personalities in Hinduism to contribute in the weekly magazine, he himself had to write articles under different pseudonymous to complete the magazine articles. Doing so and reducing his leisure time to a minimum, he raised Panchajanya to such a degree of excellence, hardly reached again.    

After working, for more than four years, as a publisher, he came to the conclusion that political and economic liberation in society has its limits and that there is only one class of unlimited liberation: the spiritual one. With this idea in mind, he sold his rights as the author of a book collection for children, to provide his parents future with an allowance. He decided to begin all “the way back”.

His father had to give in and approved his decision of taking sannyasa vows (renunciation), provided that he would never change his name as it happens, whenever a person becomes a sannyasin.

 When he began his peregrination in search of his Master, Tilak´s sandals wasted away. From that time on, he took a vow of wearing no shoes anymore and, afterwards, of traveling only on foot.

After a year, walking Northern part of India, he started filling a void – a big void.  Strong aversion for public life appeared to take hold on him. He arrived at the Central India, in 1960, in a remote place at Narmada´s riverside, in a place called Chichot Khera. There, he met a nonagenarian ascetic (saddhu), living in a humble hut (kuti) whose name was Sri Baba Bajarangadas. Tilak was touched by his austerity and wisdom and became his disciple.

After assimilating his Master teachings for a few months, he decided to undertake a peregrination on foot (padayatra), going across the Central and the Southern India. It took him eight years to do so, with the intention of spreading the message of Yoga (Union with the Supreme Being).

He had only a dhoti (piece of cloth) around his waist, and a blanket to protect him from cold weather. This way, carrying with him a spiritual book, he traveled across jungles, deserts, roads, villages and cities, loyal to his vow of never begging for food, because he had the conviction that “ the power which created milk in the breast of our mothers” takes care of all creatures. It is important to say that Swami Tilak was a Karma Yogi, or better, he was someone who acted with no interest in the results of his action and for this reason he had never wished to run an Institution with crowds of disciples gathering around him.

In Mangalore (S.India), someone offered him an orange color dhoti, symbol of renunciation. After making up his mind, for some seconds, he accepted it. That was the way he took Vidvat Sannyasa (he took renunciation from himself).

In the South of India, he began to study English, so that he could communicate directly with the audience that was not able to speak Hindi, a language he managed to talk with great skill.

In Kerala, he met someone who would turn to be one of his closest collaborators, Sri Nitya Chaitanya; he traveled with Swami Tilak for a year, serving him as an interpreter, from Malayalam into English. In 1968, when Swami Tilak completed his tour in the Subcontinent in Kanyakumari, extreme South of India, he heeded the  advice of the devotees who asked him to quit his vow of traveling only on foot, because it would be an obstacle to the quick spreading of his message.

On the other hand, some Japanese friends invited him to join them in their trip to Japan, to participate in the annual ceremony of the Holocaust, in Hiroshima.

Swami agreed and, after visiting his parents and getting his Master blessings, he returned to the South India and the Hindupur devotees made a spontaneous collection of money , in order to buy his ticket.

And so, Swami Tilak and Nitya Chaitanya traveled to Sri Lanka with the purpose of going to the Southeast Asian Countries, as soon as the Japanese Government gave permission to their visa.

DIFFUSION OF DHARMA

As Nitya Chaitanya had no international visa, he couldn´t proceed to Singapore, so he returned to Chichot Khera, dedicating the next ten years to take care of Tilak´s Master. Swami Jyothy from Sri Lanka joined Swami Tilak, instead of him. With the support of Ramakrishna Mission they went to Malaysia and to Indonesia. From there, they changed their direction to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa Islands, getting in deep contact with the Western Culture.

Although Tilak´s audience in the Eastern Asia Countries was formed by Hinduist immigrants, in Australia they were mostly Christians and, for this reason, he began to study the Bible, in order to have a better communication with them. He considered all the religions as effective means to raise man consciousness to attain the Supreme Being.

On the other hand, he often had to fight against the “market of spirituality”, as he so called it, correcting false ideas and fanciful conceptions of Yoga, mostly found in the Western audience.

Instead of traveling to Japan, the Swamis decided to go to Hawaii and to the United States of America. After spending six months in California, some friends invited them to go to Guadalajara, joining them on their vacation.

As Swami had great interest in the Ancient Mexican Culture, because of the similarity with his own culture, he promptly accepted the invitation. But the Swamis delayed their travel, because they had problems with their visa authorization; when they finally could go to Guadalajara, their friends had already left to the United States, so they had to sleep for several nights in the streets(September,1971).

When Swami Tilak arrived at Guadalajara, the directors of “Gran Fraternidad Universal” (GFU) let him address some public lectures and from that moment on, the same situation happened every time he arrived at a new Latin-American city. It was exactly after a conference in one of GFU headquarters, in Mexico City that Mrs. Adela Diez offered to host them at her house, knowing that the Swamis had no place to go.

Later on, she provided them with a scholarship for an intensive course in Spanish at the Mexican-North American Institute of Cultural Relations (Instituto Mexicano-Norte-Americano de Relaciones Culturales); this course lasted for five months, but at that time Swami´s conferences were already translated into Spanish by some friends.

At the end of February, 1972, after a journey at the South Mexican Republic, the Swamis traveled to Belize and to other countries, in the Central and in the South America, except Venezuela and Uruguay because of Visa issues. There were always people who wanted to offer them money, so that they could travel by plane, but they preferred to go by bus, in spite of their exhausting routes. They thought that money should not be spent in what they considered unnecessary luxury.

In Ecuador, Swami began to give lectures in Spanish (1973).

His message was so nicely welcomed in Brazil (1973), that in some weeks he learned to speak Portuguese, spending several months there.

The Swamis stayed in Argentina and Chile a great part of the year 1974, finishing their travel in South America and returning to the United States in 1975 via Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Mexico.

When Swami Tilak returned to Mexico, his friends had a great surprise with his almost perfect mastery in Spanish.

While in New York, he got a telegram from Nitya Chaitanya, communicating his Master´s Sickness. Swami Tilak returned to India immediately and left Swami Jyothy in the United States.

 Swami Tilak served at his Master´s feet for several months, till he was totally recovered. He returned to the United States, in 1976, in order to conclude many appointments and then went to Mexico again.

Before the end of this first visit to foreign countries, Swami Jyothy had to go back to Sri Lanka, because his father was very sick.

Before Swami Tilak returned to India, he visited Europe for the first time, realizing his old wish of visiting Russia and other Communist Countries.

Although Swamiji had no freedom of coming and going or even expressing his thoughts to disseminate his message, his image of austerity, with naked torso and bare feet, during the cold Russian autumn, spoke for itself and touched the hearts of Moscow people who gathered at the Red Square to pay tribute to Lenin.

From Europe, he went to Egypt, Sudan and Kenya and finally went back to India, after nine years of tireless work around the world.

Although his contact with the Western Hemisphere made him a true Universal Master, not only a Hinduist Master, as in India, the materialism from that part of the world did not affect him. He returned to India keeping loyalty to his vows of not wearing shoes, not begging and respecting every woman as a mother.

Swami Tilak stayed at Chichot Khera with Sri Bajarangadas, till his Master passed away, in February, 1979.

SWAMI TILAK´S SECOND VISIT TO FOREIGN COUNTRIES

Heeding to insistent call of his Western friends and devotees, Swami Tilak decided to start his second visit to Foreign Countries, in 1980.

This time he was accompanied by Brahmachari Nitya Chaitanya. From Italy and Spain, they traveled to America and, after a long journey around Canada and The United States, they arrived in Mexico, on March, the 11th, 1981, staying in Mexico City for Guru Purnima( The Day of the Guru), on July, the 17th, of that year. This was the longest period of time he has ever spent in one place and this time corresponds to his richest collection of public conferences in Spanish. During these months, he wrote his book of short stories “Sparkles”.

Once, Swami said: It looks as if I was Mexican in my previous life, as the relationship between Mexico and me is inseparable. In another moment, he concluded: It seems I have never been to a place so many times as in Mexico. No Country has been more often visited as Mexico in my life. In fact, I feel, in my inner self (interiority) a longstanding affinity with the land and the people of this Country. It attracts me greatly. And he added: The support we get from the Mexican brothers is wonderful. Anywhere in the world, I may assure that these many travels around the world were made possible thanks to Mexico.

After his journey in the Southeast of Mexico and not listening to the of advice of his friends, they went to all the Central American Countries by bus, in spite of the violence, in Guatemala, and the Civil War, in El Salvador.

They continued traveling in the South America and arrived in Argentina at the beginning of the Falklands War (1982).

At the end of 1982, after sending the entry application, for many times, they finally got the visa for Venezuela, finishing their journey around the South America, in Brazil.

In 1983, he returned to the North America Countries, including Mexico, and then he went back to India, at the beginning of 1984, to attend the celebration of the 5th anniversary of his Master´s Mahasamadhi or Spiritual Liberation.

When he was returning to the United States to attend the Vishwa Hindu Parishad Convention, he first went to Greece, Italy and Spain. He spent some days in Barcelona with the Solache family and during the farewell lunch on May, the 11th, 1984, Swami Tilak´s host noted there were twelve people in total, using an allusion to “The Last Supper” for that special moment. Swami Tilak answered that he would be blessed, because he would have resurrection without crucifixion. After lunch, Swami Tilak sat in deep meditation. Later on, when some devotees from Granada drove him to Valencia, the car turned over on the road and Swami Tilak was the only one injured with a mortal wound on the top of his head.

Swami used to quote Longfellow saying that “either God does not exist, or accidents do not exist.”

His death was an apparent car accident. In fact, it was a needed event that he knew it would happen, beforehand, according to many witnesses between (among) his disciples, whom he told his premonition.

Swami Tilak was one of the greatest men of the 20th Century and the Spiritual History of the World, with his silent, almost anonymous work, bringing light to hundreds of people towards a life of wisdom.

The words that he wrote when his Master left his body are also valid to him…

“We will never see him in flesh and bones again. But he always told us he was not a body. He was the personification of the ideals he lived for. Let us perpetuate his ideals. One can always find him in the depth of one’s consciousness. He was Pure Awareness, Being of all Beings.”