Swami Nirbhyananda was one of the four great pupils and Pillars of Swami Krishnanandaji. His name means ’The Bliss of Fearlessness,’ he was a great saint of God and one of the greatest poetical and mathematical geniuses of his time.
Swami Nirbhyananda Saraswati was born in the small town of Maidu, in the district of Aligarh in the United Provinces of India. Having been born in a brahmin family, he was instructed in learning in early life and being a precocious child was more than an apt pupil. At fifteen he knew all the known books of Euclid, the whole of arithmetic, algebra and much more and his teachers wondered how such a child could have acquired such proficiency in the realm of mathematics.
After passing his examinations he became a teacher and devoted over twenty-five years of his life to that profession, thereafter becoming an inspector of schools. When doing his rounds as inspector, he happened to break his journey for a little rest in a certain village; his horse refused to go further and the Swami said: “Well child, if you won’t go on and want to stay, then I will rest where you wish to rest.” He spread his carpet on the bank of a small pond and people passing from the village brought some handfuls of grain and a few fruits and flowers, some only a few blades of grass. Pundit To tar am, for such was his name as a layman, asked to whom they were bringing their gifts and was told that a great Saint of God was due to visit the village and that they had all come to worship him. ‘To worship him,’ for it is not by mere questioning or discussion that we learn to know the secret of the spiritual experience, but by the mute communion between two souls, the soul of the one who teaches and the one who is to be taught; this is the secret of knowledge and the significance of the phrase.
The Pundit waited, and as the sun was about to set, a tall figure of extraordinary beauty and apparent intelligence, like a Buddha expressing love, walking slowly with a bundle of books, appeared and sat down under a pipal tree. All touched the feet of the Saint.
When the people were ready, he spoke to them of mutual assistance in time of danger, reverence towards the aged and others, and compassion to those whose lot was not as fortunate as their own. The words were adapted to suit the simple villagers and there was nothing likely to excite the interest .or enthusiasm of a pundit, but Pundit Totaram at the close of the speech went up to the saint and putting his head at his feet said: “Command me.”
They were together for some hours and he took his meditations a few weeks later. Swami Krishnanandaji said: “I wish you to be a singer of the holy Adhyatma Yoga in the modern vernacular Hindi.” Swami Nirbhyananda accepted the charge.
This time has not yet come when the poetry of Swami Nirbhyananda will attract the attention it merits – but the day will surely dawn when his verse will rank as high as that of Sur Das, Kabir or of Tulsi Das.
When the Pundit retired from his profession – and he did so early in life, he embraced sannyasa – the life of a wandering ascetic – and became a monk. He found, by so doing, he could carry the message of Adhyatma Yoga better than as a layman. Accompanied by his two sons and a few other brahmacharis, he travelled the length of India, from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin, later spending more than a year, preaching in Ceylon. For fifty years he never stayed more than one night in any place.
It is said in the holy records at Hardwara, that he was Invited to preach a discourse there and although he spoke in a language that was not understood, for he knew only Sanskrit and Hindi, yet all testified to being exalted by his words. This is because when we speak or preach, we do not merely give out vibrations of physical personality, but at every moment everyone is pouring out, through innumerable means, the aggregate of their thought – the thought that has occupied the mind In relation to knowledge, to love of God and to man.
Truly every human being is a fountain, giving out all the time, as an invisible stream, millions of little vibrations, which Influence all. Thus the mere presence of Shri Nirbhyananda was an upliftment to others as he went from place to place.
He devoted fifty years of his life in this way and he left the body at the venerable age of eighty-five years. Up to the last day he was teaching, preaching, writing poetry and bringing solace to the hearts of others. His long flowing beard, his stately figure, broad forehead, candid gaze earned him the description of a ’Lion among men’.
Once when he was entering a village, some of the young men who had seen him before but were indifferent to spiritual beauty said to one another, “Look, the old fool has come back again.” Swami Nirbhyananda overheard them and with great affection called one of them and asked him what had been said. They were afraid but he re-assured them and repeated the question. They told him what had been said and he replied: “My son, you have spoken the truth in this ‘‘instance, it is my wish that you should always do this in life, that is what I expect of you.”
At another time he said: “As a patient goes to visit a doctor, sometimes crossing the sea, in faith, perfect frankness and sincerity, so must a candidate for Nirvana – the state of eternal freedom – approach the traditional Teacher and receive unconditional guidance in obedience and faith. The Lord as Truth will speak and bless such a pupil, through the lips of the Teacher.”
A favourite meditation of his was: ‘I and I alone exist; there is neither the seeker nor the sought.’
Swami Nirbhyananda published his poems in six volumes, in them knowledge, ethics, beauty, rules of conduct are expressed in such a way that even a child can understand them and yet they are in deeply mystical.
Among his chief disciples was Pundit Baijnath – a God-realised man who published the books of his Guru and gave them away at a nominal price. Swami Sat Chit Ananda, Swami Magnan and Swami Galaragunshi were also his disciples.