In search of the Beloved
Ep.3- 108 Swami Nigamananda Paramahamsa Dev
He suddenly woke up to find the whole area illuminated. He shivered in fright when he saw a man sitting in front of a bonfire at the base of the tree. As he climbed down, he noticed that the saint was clad in a loincloth, with a pipe in his mouth. The saint handed over the pipe to him to take a puff and started walking, signaling for him to follow. They arrived at an elevated rocky space beside a small spring, and then the saint looked back. On beholding the radiant, divine glow emanating from his face, Nigamananda fell at his feet. The saint embraced him, disclosing several secret events of Nigamananda’s past, present and future life and giving him the solace that his search for his Yogi Guru was over. Nigamananda surrendered himself at the lotus feet of his Yogi guru, Swami Sumerudas. The saint removed a large piece of rock from the mouth of a cave, exposing a long tunnel which led to three rooms, one for cooking and dining, one for meditation and sadhana and the third room was filled with scriptures engraved on palm leaves. His Guru explained to him the functioning of the human body and taught how the world could be conquered by a little awakening of the immense potential of the power hidden within man. In three months, Nigamananda accomplished his yogic sadhana. Swami Sumerudas instructed him to go to the society and practice the sadhana since the body needs nutritious food like ghee and milk. Nigamananda went to Bengal and reached the village of Haripur in Pabna district. The landlord came to him and said that he had been instructed by a saint in his dream to help Nigamananda in his yoga sadhana. In a cottage built in the garden at the back of the landlord’s house, Nigamanda started his sadhana of Hatha Yoga, which enables one to live a longer life and Laya Yoga, with helps in establishing the union of soul(atma) with the divine(paramatma). The news of this sadhaka spread, and people started coming to meet him, creating obstacles and interfering in his practice. So, Nigamananda left Haripur and went to Guwahati, where he completed his practices with the help of the assistant commissioner of Guwahati. He gained control over Samadhi, the ripe state of meditation and thereafter, in a lonely spot in the hill of Kamakshya near Bhubaneswari temple, he attained Nirbikalpa Samadhi.
While he was lost in deep meditation, he could feel his consciousness expanding. He first imagined that he was contained in his physical body. Slowly, he felt himself transcending his physical body, and becoming one with the Kamakshya hill, then with the whole state of Assam, the whole of India, encompassing all the rivers, hills and mountains, until he was even surpassing the Saptaloka (the seven worlds) and he reached an illuminated halo. Suddenly a very firm and exuberated feeling bloomed inside him as he realized: ‘I am guru’. He descended back to his physical state as Sadguru.
Nigamananda desired to meet his Jnani Guru again and found him in the Kumbhmela at Ujjain. He first bowed down before his Guru, Swami Sachidananda and then offered his respect to the Sankaracharya of Shingeri Math, who was seated on a majestic throne, surrounded by hundreds of saints. However, doing so caused a controversy. Some found it disrespectful that he bowed down to his guru before paying his regards to Jagadguru (Universal Guru) Sankaracharya of Shingeri. Nigmananda answered, “My Guru is Jagadguru. If I admit there is someone superior to my Guru, then it will lead to the conclusion that there would be someone still superior to him and it will shatter the most precious gospels of Monism (Advaita) preached by Adi Sankaracharya.” Jagadguru, highly pleased with the answer ascertained that Nigamananda had reached the state of Paramahansa. Swami Sachidananda bestowed this title on his disciple in front of the saints present there, and Swami Nigamananda came to be known as Paribrajakacharya Paramahansa Swami Nigamananda Saraswati Dev.
After the attainment of Nirbikalpa Samadhi, he believed that there was only one all-powerful force called Brahman, who does not get manifested in any form. He arrived in Kashi (Varanasi), where he embraced the unmanifested divinity and ignored the manifested reality. He had been told that Maa Annapurna always makes sure that no stranger in Kashi would remain hungry. To test the truth of this statement, he decided to fast on the ghat of the Ganges. A while later, an old lady came up to him and handed him a bundle to look after till she would return. Nigamanda agreed and soon became absorbed in meditation but woke up to find the bundle still lying there. He opened the bundle to find eight pieces of Sitabhog, a delicious sweet. He realized that the old lady was none other than Maa Annapurna herself. He satisfied his hunger with those sweets. That night Maa Annapurna came in his dream to tell him, “I left those sweets with you to confirm the belief that no one goes hungry in Kashi. You have not yet attained absolute knowledge. God is infinite and all powerful. All the Gods and Goddesses are the manifestation of His various powers. He is present in all and all are present in Him. He who rules the universe can also assume the form of an old lady. Brahman who is formless can also assume form. When the unmanifested takes a manifested form, He performs many earthly Leelas and activities as per His wish. The world of the divine sport is unknown to you. Now you must go for Bhava Sadhana.” Saying this, she revealed herself in full glory, in her original form.
Nigamananda found Gouri Maa in the mountainous regions near Mussourie in the Himalayas and accepted her as his Premik Guru. He realized that there is a perpetual forward movement of the life force in all living beings of the Universe. Beneath the apparent differences among people, the humanity in them develops and attains divinity. He learnt that the supreme culmination of this progress is Bhavaloka, which is the meeting place of the Saguna (form) and Nirguna (formless) Brahma. All the objects and organisms of this mundane world, the principles of love (prema)and devotion (bhakti), the eternal nature of divine love play, are all a reflection of Bhavaloka. During the process of Bhava Sadhana in the Garo hills of Assam, he felt the immeasurable divine love rise within him. He laughed, wept, danced and was always in a state of ecstasy, lost in the beauty of God in each and every creation.
His books, ‘Brahmacharya Sadhana’, ‘Yogiguru’, ‘Jnaniguru’, ‘Tantrikguru’ and ‘Premikguru’ became well known in the outside world. He established the Saraswat Math at Kokilamukh, Assam and had several disciples and devotees to whom he said, “If you are once downed in the bliss and serenity of the oceanic love by the blessings of Gurudev, you can attain everything in the universe. Progress on the path of simplicity, sacrifice and detachment. I only ask you to love me and I will cry in front of the Divine Mother for your liberation.” He had disciples like Fanibhusan Mitra and Bihari Sharma, who didn’t view him as a greater force but loved him as an equal, without any expectations. In the realm of love, the lover attains as much development as the object of love. Some of his disciples even experienced strange and splendid encounters. Some of them had obtained mantras in subtle forms while some had witnessed him keeping a watch over them and protecting them. He explained that Guru and Guru Shakti are not separate. He assured that all the three states: Brahman, Atma and Bhagaban would be manifested in the disciples provided they have complete faith in him. The King of Bastar, Maharaja Prafulla Chandra Bhanjadeo meditated before his Ishtadevi, Danteswari, to find his Guru and attain his long cherished spirituality. The goddess led him to Sri Nigamananda. Sri B.B. Pathak, the revenue officer of the estate of Gaekward, was searching for a Guru who could solve his spiritual enigma. A divine image of a sage appeared before him. When he became more and more anxious to find out who the sage was, the name ‘Swami Nigamananda Paramahansa’ was engraved in golden letters. Later he met his Guru and took initiation from him. Another time, a Brahmin who was successful in his sadhana of karnapisachi mentioned in tantra, wished to get direct vision of devi and the Devi asked him to go to Swami Nigamananda who can solve his spiritual problems.
Swami Nigamananda practiced and surpassed all conventions and established theories of sadhana prevailing in all spiritual doctrine. He removed the complexities and showed easy and simple techniques amenable to individual capacities and practices. Shankaracharya is the embodiment of Jnana (knowledge) and Gourangadev (Chaitanya Mahaprabhu) of Prema (love). He propounded to accept the spiritual theories of Shankacharya and to live the life of love and devotion of Gouranga, the path of synthesis of Jnana and Prema.