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Conversations

with Swami Virajeshwara


[Hamsa Swami]
Srinivasan Nenmeli
Swami Virajeshwara, aka,Hamsa Swami, lived in a small
ashram [" Hamsa Ashramam"] in an obscure village ,called
Anusoni , near Hosur town in Tamil Nadu.
[ Location: The village is closer to Bengaluru , at a
distance of about 70 Km. The road approach is as
follows: take the Bengaluru [Bangalore] -Hosur highway;
at Attibele junction,take the right turn for the road
leading to TVS-Suzuki automobile factory ; proceed
straight on the same road to Anusoni village. The ashram
is located at a distance of about 2 km from the main
road; the main road is the state highway leading to
Rayakottai town.]
I have been visiting Swamiji since 1993, soon after he
moved to Anusoni from his earlier abode at
Ramalingeswarar Temple at Hulimavu near Meenakshi temple
in Banarghatta Road,Bangalore.

I used to visit him once a month or once in two months,


according to my situation ,since I was in service with
DRDO [Defence Research and Development Organisation] in
Bangalore. Each time I used to carry flowers and fruit
for the Swami.
In those days, Swamiji was living alone for many
years. There were no permanent devotees or chelas
[disciples] in residence.[ Some persons used to stay for
about a week in later years in the small rooms that
were available adjoining the main building,his Kutir or
cottage.] Swamiji used to cook his own food and take
care of daily chores.
The nearest big village was at Kelamangalam and Swami
used to walk to Kelamangalam and get the grocery items ;
there were very small shops ,what we call 'pan-beeda
shops' , in Anusoni.
The ashram was bare without much vegetation except for a
large pine tree. [The pine tree is seen in many
photographs of early days.] Swamiji did plant a few
flowering plants near the Kutir ,but there was always

some water shortage there,due to restricted amount of


water from the borewell. [A large well maintained garden
could develop only after about 15 years.] Swami's meal
consisted of small amount of cooked rice, some
dhal[lentils] ,a vegetable curry and a cup of
curds[yogurt.] He had a small fridge, in which he stored
milk and fruit ,which was available due to visitors
bringing them .
The simple life style of Swamiji was hard to imagine
for town folks. There was no radio or TV or even a phone
[that was linked to telephone service in those days
before cell phones!]. Swamiji got a copy of 'Deccan
Herald' newspaper every day which was the only link to
the outside world,except for occasional visitors like
me. The visitors came only on weekends or holidays--just
a few of them.
Swamiji used to give darshan between 4 and 6 PM in later
years, but at that time, his door was always open for
seekers at any time, but for a short nap break he took
around 2 PM.The local villagers knew about this swami

and did not disturb him. Once a set of drunken hooligans


banged on his door wanting some money. Swamiji sent them
away with threatening gestures.
Swamiji was always smiling and spoke in simple,direct
style. He rarely quoted from scriptures except for some
discussions.He was given to chanting and always held a
rosary in his hand, when he was not writing. Very rarely
he lost his temper and shouted at some who did not
behave properly in the ashram.
Swamiji attained Mahasamadhi on May 30th ,2014. He was
aged 81.
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Biography of Swami Virajeshwara


A detailed biography of his life can be found in
the ashram website. His auto-biography " A
Scientist's Search for Truth" contains many
details. Here is a brief sketch of his
extra-ordinary and sublime life for the reader.
He was born in 1933 in Udipi, Karnataka,

[famous for Sri Krishna temple and the birth


place of Madhvachariar] to Brahmin parents. He
studied physics at University of Bombay
[Mumbai]. Later he went to the USA and took his
doctorate in polymer physics from Rutgers
University, New Jersey. He later worked as an
instructor in physics for medical students for
a short duration and then had worked with IBM as
a senior researcher, involved with development
of IBM-360 computers, for nearly 7 years.
The call of spiritual life in India was
strong. He learned basics of Ashtanga Yoga
{Patanjali system ,with focus on asanas and
pranayama in initial stages] with one Swami
Suryananda , an American living in Mhao, Madhya
Pradesh at that time, through correspondence.
He practised yoga with great intensity. He

visited India a few times to study with masters


in Rishikesh and Haridwar.. He later met Swami
Vidyananda, a disciple of Swami Sivananda
{Divine Life Society, Rishikesh] who would
become his guru ; after return from US ,Swami
Vidyananda gave him "sanyasa" with the monastic
name of "Virajeshwara."
For the next 17 years, he wandered around
Rishikesh and lived the life of a 'parivrajika'
sanyasin and attained higher states of samadhi
and "Self Realisation."
He later moved to Bangalore , living at
Hulimavu,in Ramalingeshwar temple , for nearly 4
years in a small room ,about 6 feet x 6 feet.
When the temple precincts were acquired by a
larger matha , though the Pontiff let him to
stay, Swamiji felt the need for a separate

ashram. Thus Hamsa Ashram was born-- with about


7 acres of land and a small building, the Kutir
of Swamiji with one bedroom apartment --in
Anusoni. In the beginning there were no other
buildings at the ashram.
Swami Tanmayanandaji [Thiruvannamalai] became
his first Sannyasa disciple in 2012. He had one
more Sanyasa disciple [Mr Srinivasan, who was a
bank manager earlier]before attaining samadhi.
He had nearly a thousand lay persons as
diciples.
Swamiji had written several books--the most
well known ones are the following:
1 " A Scientist's search for truth"--his
autobiography;
2 " The Science of the Bhagavad Gita";
3 " Sadhana and meditation"--a practical guide

for spiritual sadhaks or practitioners...a small


book.
His autobiography has been translated into
several Indian languages. The Bhagavad Gita had
been translated into Japanese.
4 " Know Your Reality" is a series of volumes
which include his answers to several questions
posed by seekers in later years.There are a few
questions asked by me also in these volumes.
[The books are published by the Ashram trust and
constitutes the main source of income for the
ashram,]
Swamiji was a strict displinarian and followed
many traditional practices,yet modern in his
views on several aspects. He never traveled
outside Anusoni,except for short trips to
Bangalore and one visit to Mumbai in the past

20 odd years I had known. He shunned giving


lectures,stating with innocent smile:"There are
others to do such things". He published a
magazine, quarterly,with English and Kannada
articles, for about two years.
----------------------------------------------

Conversations with Swamiji


These conversations occurred over several years. I have
not kept any diary or journal with specific dates. I am
not able to write in exact words he used and hence this
article is based on my strong recollections only. I use
the letters 'NKS' to denote myself.
1 N K S: Swamiji, What could be the simplest 'sadhana'
since many of us cannot study or understand complex
things in Vedanta.[The Gita ,the Upanishads and other
texts.]
Swamiji: Just nama sankirtan or japa, repeating the name
of the Lord would do.
[He used to emphasize this often to most

visitors..."just chant Hari nama or Lord Rama"--he would


say.
[He was devoted to worship of Rama and there was a large
picture of Rama in the main receiving room of Swamiji;
this was also his 'living room'. I presume that Lord
Rama was his Ishta devata, favorite deity or his family
deity.]He added: You can also chant "Om Namashivaya".
As an gyani, he was not restricted to formal worship.
But gyanis do worship out of a mental practice ingrained
in the mind during waking state.

2 N K S: What are the different states of Samadhi, like
savi-kalpa ,nirvi-kalpa and so on. I learned that there
are about 5 types of samadhi. Bhagwan Ramana mentioned
"sahaja samadhi"
Swamiji: There are indeed several samadhi states. There
are subtle differences between them. But you need not
worry about them...just keep going; you will understand
in course of time.
[ Apparently I got the impression that Swamiji was not

interested in elaborating them, as this would be just an


intellectual exercise. After all , Samadhi states are to
be experienced and not to be discussed or written about
in any language. This was his common stand--he avoided
academic or intellectual discussions like a philosopher
or scholar, but brought you back to direct practice.]
3 N K S: If you consider the advaita [monism] of Adi
Shankara and vishista-advaita [qualified monism]of Sri
Ramanuja , they are diametrically opposite. Both of them
are deducing their doctrines apparently from the same
Vedas and Upanishads and interpret in their own ways.
Much schism among Hindus have occurred over this divide
of these two acharyas [preceptors]...Why this?
Swamiji: Each stated things based on their own
experience. Ramanuja's experience was different from
that of Adi Shankara's....that is all.
Comment: I was struck by his simple and direct answer.
He did not enter into polemics or purely philosophical
discussion as most scholars have done. His reply amounts
to this: Each one , Adi Shankara and Sri Ramanuja had

different "perceptions of Reality" ---that is all. It


was entirely convincing to me and made me think in many
directions in a deeper way.!
One may ask "what about Sri Madhvachariar with his
'dvaita' philosophy". I did not ask him...there was no
need to.
4 N K S: Lord Krishna in BG says that he does not take
away any one's merits [punya] or sins [papa]. Is this
not strange?. The Lord is supposed to take our sins and
wash them away, as his blessing or grace.
Again, the Lord says in 18th chapter: " you surrender to
me; I will absolve you of all sins and give you moksha".
In Saiva siddhanta, they say that Lord Shiva intervenes
and weans a wrongdoer away from his bad path and turns
him around.
Swamiji: [Looking surprised at my question as if I have
asked a stupid one, he replied at once:] The Lord does
not take any one's merit or wash away one's sins...that
is definite. Each one has to do it himself. The question
of grace relates to only those who have surrendered to

him "totally". So it is a special case of dispensation


by the Lord only for those who had made complete
surrender.
Comment: The answer by Swamiji did not surprise me; I
could figure out his answer in the light of advaitic
concepts and also the devotional 'bhakti' marga.
What gave me the assurance was his remarkable clarity
and precision. I knew that no long discussion or
argument was called for, as it could happen between two
scholars. Our discussions were always short and sweet!

5 N K S: Swamiji. I dont understand much of chapter 16
of the Gita. Lord Kirshna says that he punishes wicked
people ,born with asura sampat [evil tendencies or
literally demonic] , who continue to sin, who go to
deeper and deeper levels of hell and would suffer birth
after birth...how can the compassionate Lord say that?
Is there no salvation for such people?
Swamiji: Don't worry too much about 16th chapter and
what is given there. It is only to frighten people and

to make them stay in the straight path.


Comment: I was struck by the forthright manner Swamiji
dismissed what is given in Chapter 16. The content is
similar to Madhvachariar's theory of eternal damnation
derived from this chapter. Apparently Swamiji was not
convinced that the theory of eternal damnation was a
valid statement ,but had only moral value of keeping
people ethically correct.
Again I was convinced of his stand and would not argue
further. [I felt that he meant that chapter 16 could
have been a later addition to the Gita, though he did
not say directly.] I do not ,however, suggest that
Madhvachariar's doctrine was wrong. The doctrine was
made at certain time in history [13th century] , based
on societal conditions.
N K S and others: There were a few devotees listening to
him. We were talking about different forms of worship.
One person sitting next to me asked a basic question:
Swamiji, some worship Shiva and only Shiva. Some worship
Vishnu; some worship both the Gods. Which is

correct;which is suitable for us?


Swamiji: Both are the same. Shiva and Vishnu both are
the same--One only. You worship any one---It makes no
difference..People are different ; they like to worship
in different ways--that is all.
Comment: Swamiji kept on repeating the same words a
number of times, to impress on the minds of the
listeners. His words now echo in my ears after so many
years.
[Note: I may add some more as I recall them.]
Note: Swamiji was practical in his approach to many
problems. He was not averse to social service or karma
yoga ,though some traditions of Advaita deprecate social
work as a distraction from the practice of spiritual
inquiry.
On a personal level ,he encouraged me to continue with
social work that I was doing in Bengaluru.


The author can be contacted at"
nenmelisrinivasan@gmail.com

------------------ Om Tat Sat --------------------