I was regular with reading since an early age. I had no particular choice of what I would pick to read. Some magazines and newspapers were in routine. For others, a careful scan of some pages into the ‘print’ would make for my decision. Once, into the written work, if it clicked, I went on to finish the work with full joy of reading.

Now, as I reflects back, I see it as one of the formative processes of being my ‘Self’, for it inspired me to try and think independently of what I read and it guided me on how I wrote (how I would write) my thoughts on the issues I thought over. The teachings have come to stay with me.

In the process, when I was still in the college, I picked up a magazine on Osho, found it interesting, and went on reading it. The reading of the magazine pushed me to read more on Osho. Along with the magazine, I found some books. The Osho reading went on almost for a year.

Yes, interesting it was. But I could not come to correlate with it. But I never reasoned about it. The continued reading for almost a year was more about reading something unorthodox and thinking over it.

Meanwhile, after a chance-event, I had started reading Swami Vivekananda, too.

It happened so that once I was visiting a Ramakrishna Mission hospital. At the entrance of the hospital I saw a book shop selling Vedanta and other works on cultural and spiritual literature. While leaving the hospital, I gave a visit to the book shop. The visit took more than an hour. I read some pages of some books and decided to pick some by Swami Vivekananda.

Swami Vivekananda is known globally for his spiritual views and for resurrecting the pride of the Indian spiritual heritage. I, too, was having this image of Swamiji when I picked up the books from that shop. But it was going to be my first serious reading of Swamiji.

As I started reading Swamiji, I found my ‘Self’ more and more drawn towards reading Swamiji even more. Moreover, I found an instant liking of him, of his life, and of unorthodox and traditional ways.

This happened while I was still reading Osho.

Swamiji and Osho, both delved deeper into the spiritual practices like Yoga and Meditation. But as I read more of Swamiji, I found many points of contradictions in Osho’s viewpoints. When the contradictions created many layers creating a trust-gap, I stopped reading Osho.

Reading a text has to be a text-reading. Try to be as objective as you can be. If you read something, try not to be trapped in its environs, be it negative or positive in the worldly means. Read the work in the context of its writing plot but if you have to think over it, never allow its context to influence yours. I thought so. I think so. I believe it to be so.

While reading Osho, I never thought to follow him. And not just with Osho, it had not happened so to me yet while reading a written work. I still follow this sell-evolved principle.

But Swamiji was the one who became a natural exception to this principle. I read and rewrote my words. I tried to follow his teachings. I came to know my limitations in following Swamiji’s teachings. I consciously made it a point for me to follow my new found attachment earnestly. Also, Swamiji was an important aspect of my connect with her.

But if the inclination to follow Swamiji came to me naturally, equally spontaneous was the fact that I never felt dominated by his teachings. I tried to follow all of his teachings initially but realized I could not. And I never felt sorry for it.

I don’t feel sorry about it for, I know reading Swamiji is more about the ‘Process’ in my life; a life that loves to evolve consistently, a life that tries to live meaningfully, a life that lives severally alone, a life that believes in making sense of its existence, a life that understands what its identity means, a life that knows it needs to contribute for its existence to be one with its identity.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


Swami Vivekananda: January 12, 1863 – July 4, 1902

The wandering monk in Swamiji was very fond of Varanasi. Though he didn’t spend a long stretch of his life in Varanasi, the mysticism of Varanasi found a great admirer in the great visionary, the ascetic miracle of India, and of humanity, and the experiences, the teachings, the learning, that he had in Varanasi, always echoed in his teaching throughout his life.

He was pulled by Varanasi’s spiritual heritage and its hermitic tradition. When he began on his itinerary, on his pilgrimage, to know and experience more, after his Guru, his Master, Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa attainted Maha-Nirvana, Varanasi was always a priority.

He visited Varanasi in 1890, during his itinerant time before the Parliament of the World Religions in Chicago in1893 and in 1902, the year he took Mahasamadhi.

Volume 1 of the book ‘The Life of Swami Vivekananda: By His Eastern and Western Disciples’ published by the Advaita Ashrama’ expresses it beautifully.

“Coming now to such details as we have of his extended pilgrimages, the first of these was Varanasi, the home of monks, the centre of learning and the Seat of Shiva. He set out from the Baranagore Math, accompanies by Premananda and Fakirbabu, a lay devotee of the Master. The sacred Ganga, the praying votaries, the numerous temples, especially those of Vishwanath, Annapurna and Durga, the atmosphere of holiness, the thought that it was here that the Buddha and Shri Sankara had preached – all these made a vivid impression on him.”

He was expressive about his yearning for the city. In his works, he writes emphatically about Varanasi, the holy city of Hinduism, the spiritual Capital of India and the eternal city of the Indian civilization.

The book writes: “Often he would resolve to go to Varanasi and spend time in the sacred city of Vishwanath. He wrote in a letter – my idea is to remain there (Varanasi) for some time and to watch how Vishwanath and Annapurna deal it out to my lot. And my resolve is something like ‘either to lay down my life or realize my ideal’ – so help me, Lord of Kashi.”

While on pilgrimage with his brother-monks, he left Delhi alone in 1889 to explore the Northern India and Varanasi was an important part of it. While in Varanasi, going with the name Swami Vividishananda, the ascetic in him found good company during his stay at the Dwarkadas Ashrama, and in Pandit and writer Bhudev Mukhopadhyay and Saint Trailanga Swami, to discuss and meditate over the questions, the spiritual themes and the answers on the existential realms.

After 1890, he again came back to the city in 1902, after his second visit to the West. By this time, from an unknown monk he had become a globally known great spiritual soul, a pride of India. During this visit to the city, he became the force behind the evolution of an organization ‘the Home of Service—Sevashrama’ from its earlier avatar ‘Poor Men’s Relief Association’, established by some youngsters who were inspired by Swamiji.

By changing the symbolism of the nomenclature of the organization, he led the foundation stone of a committed organization, ‘Ramkrishna Mission Home of Service’, by making people realise the value of ‘service of others and manifestation of God’ and the irrelevance of ‘helping out others with the concept of compassion in mind’.

These Varanasi visits are according to the books published by the Advaita Ashrama. But other works put as early as1887 as the year of Swamji’s first Varanasi visit quoting Gambhirananda. Some other works put 1888 as well.

Whatever be the years of his visit or the time spent, Swamiji’s teachings tell us of his deep, transcendental attachment with Varanasi.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –