Pujya Gurudev showed not only how we should act in the world outside, but also the inner springs of action that lead to material success and spiritual liberation. Some of his letters give us a glimpse of how he worked, and others light our path by inspiring us to bring out our best. His own life was a dazzling example of how to express one’s inner beauty in a dynamic flow of work that nourishes everyone and everything in the yajna spirit.

Swami Chinmayananda on the way to a Jnana Yajna
Pujya Gurudev with members of a branch of the Rotary Club.

Gurudev's message on Sivaratri day, 1958. He wanted this letter to be read at all centers.

P.S. Venkata Rao 16.2.1958

Chinmaya was born on the Ganges banks on this day: Sivaratri. May this glorious day bring the seekers away from the confusions and higher up in their estimate of themselves and the world of Truth.

You are right. I am a bit down in my physical structure. Work is heavy. I have not yet found one who is an equal yoke-fellow with myself to pull out this stuck-up cart of our Hindu culture. Let me work as best as I can. But believe me I am not either mentally or intellectually or spiritually even a wee bit less strong. At the physical level a little weak – but it doesn’t matter. I am pouring my own blood and flesh as ahuti in this great National Cultural Revival Yagna. Let me see if the Divine be pleased at least by this. This must be our atonements for the sins of the past generations.

Every one of us must thus strive. Don’t say there is no time. In fact there is no time to complain that there is no time. Press into effective service every spare moment. My disciples cannot rest any day without working at least 18-20 hours a day. 6-8 hours at office – rest of the time in their sadhana and preaching. Everyone must get out of their houses, walk into the neighbours varanda and start talking with him. But before that we must know sufficiently. Make use of the mission groups for this purpose.

Please read this in all branches. Make this as my message on this sacred day.

While his strength was ebbing and his heart was under tremendous strain in the later years, he could write about it in a light vein and encourage the workers:

Ramani Thyagarajan 4.7.1991

And I am not really keeping fine. Within golden chains I work – no salt, no sugar, NO – NO. NO – no correspondence – no speaking in between – talks only 1 hour each Yet your report of the steady work going on in Ranchi was a vigorous shot in my arms!!

Gently, in small measures, Gurudev inculcates the spirit of Karma Yoga in the devotees:

Birendra Kumar 28.11.1990

Without selfishness and ego, with a feeling of surrender to the inspiring purpose for which we are striving, when a team of sincere workers exert, the project will just grow under your eyes! Help will come from all quarters, and we will see that we are carried to the fulfillment of His wish!!

While organizing the very first jnana yajna in Pune, Pujya Gurudev allays the fears and worries of the organizers, kindles their faith and strengthens their confidence.

Seshadri 11.12.1951

Money is not everything. It is not money that accomplishes. We Divine Lifers must learn to revalue our ideas and our approaches to life. Lord is the Supreme. He is the Accomplisher. His Grace is gold and silver.

We start the yagna on Dec. 31st. Let us fix the date and with faith in Him act in total surrender to, deep devotion in, and constant remembrance of Him, the … of our hearts’ secret cave!! We shall then know nothing but success.

The fear or worry at keeping 2-3 sadhus for 100 days need not be thine. We are seasoned workers; even under any wayside tree we can sleep. Neither Nandaji nor Shantilalji should be bothered for this. Any old temple ruin is place comfortable enough for us. And as to our food – we are not Rajas but Bhikshus at eating!! The Lord who is feeding us here is not a power who has no authority in the Bombay Province. Lord is not a mortal civil supply officer with authorities only over the ration – cards of his Province!! Why worry upon these minor matters? Stop such worries.

Gurudev encapsulates the ideals of Karma Yoga in his advice to Sadhana Mull.

Sadhana Mull 14.2.1980

As far as I know He likes us to serve His creations with the faculties He has given us, in an act of dedication and love. What you have is not for you, nor are they yours. What you have is like the money in the Postman’s box, like the fragrance and beauty of the flowers, like the shine of the moon or the heat of the fire. None of these is for themselves – they are all meant to be of service to others. To employ your beauty, strength, energy, love, concern to bring some honest happiness to others would be our true Pooja of the Creator.

Pujya Gurudev shows a volunteer the right way to build and inspire a team.

Hemalatha Rajan 30.9.1954

Congratulations. It is He who selects His workers, and not by the members of the Mission. Lord has called upon you to do His job: and His choice can never be wrong.

Be ever in unison with Him through study, kirtan, and regular meditation. Live in self control, in goodness, in purity. Surely then, from moment to moment He will guide you in all activities, making you fulfil His Plan. Be a servant of the Lord of Lords.

The main job of yours must be to see that the members are ever kept in a spirit of one family. You must become such an ideal mother to them all that they will be automatically coming to you to solve their problems: to pour out their feelings. Serve them with all sincerity: bow down to everyone: salute everybody with a hearty devotional OM NAMO NARAYANAYA. Win them with the Truth you live: the purity you practice.

At a personal level, Gurudev worked very hard, relentlessly dedicating himself to his goal of spreading the knowledge of Vedanta. During a retreat in Uttarkasi in May 1969, he writes to Hamsa Salvi:

Hamsa Salvi 7.5.1969

Yes. After the continuous work, it looks a holiday here when I have only (i) a morning class of Mandukya (ii) an evening class of Geeta (iii) 7 students and 12 guests (iv) dictating on to tape recorder Viveka Chudamani book (v) finishing a commentary upon Sri Gurudev’s “Sri Ganga Stotram” (vi) finishing the fortnightly letters to the study group members (vii) my own studies (viii) a little sadhana (ix) a lot of correspondence with Mission Branches!!

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