Editor's note

Just as the magazine was getting ready to go to the press, I received a surprise call from Brni. Prarthana Chaitanya (Now Swamini Kaivalyananda). She had discovered some letters by Swami Tapovan Maharaj! Two of them were written to Swami Mahadevavanam, a disciple of Swami Tapovanam, and of the other two, one was dictated by Swami Tapovan Maharaj and put on paper by Sri Chandrasekhara Menon, while the other was a copy of an inspiring letter by Swami Tapovanji. All four letters in Malayalam were preserved carefully by Dr. Geetha, niece of Swami Mahadevavanam, and handed over to Brni. Prarthana Chaitanya for the Chinmaya Mission archives.

Once again, the Chidambarams, the devoted doctor couple in Chennai, came to my rescue and helped with the English translation. Here are some extracts from Swami Mahadevavanam’s letters and the entire letter dictated by Swami Tapovanam, along with the scanned copy of the originals, for indeed, the beauty of the original can never be fully captured in English.

Letters from Swami Tapovanam

This letter from Swami Tapovan Maharaj dated 20-7-1952, was written to Swami Mahadevavanam from Gangotri

It should be considered as an essential duty to practise Atma Vidya according to one’s capacity. One should reflect on scriptural works and the Upanishads which give us knowledge of the Self. Contemplate on the Self. Along with that make it a daily practice to worship the Lord also. Whatever actions you undertake, should be performed with complete selflessness. These should be considered unavoidable and practised daily, continuously, without any break. Atma Vidya alone is capable of making a person completely happy.

Swami Tapovan Maharaj

Letter from Swami Tapovan Maharaj dated 16-9-1952, written to Swami Mahadevavanam from Uttarkashi

One should put in more effort in Atma-sadhana. Along with one’s other duties, one should create time for contemplation on the Self, worship of the Lord and study and reflection on the scriptures. Till the mind becomes absolutely pure and full of discrimination and dispassion, one should perform all one’s duties. However, without worrying about the gains or losses accrued through them, one should perform them with equanimity of mind in the attitude of worship of the Lord.

Moksha (liberation) is knowing the Atma-tattva and revelling in it. That is the highest goal of life (parama-purushartha). All the other sadhanas like performing selfless actions, worship of the Lord, contemplation on the Self, sravana, manana, dhyana etc. are the means for that. After all, one has to reach the goal!

Swami Tapovan Maharaj

Letter dictated by Swami Tapovan Maharaj to Pallathil Chandrasekhara Menon, at Gangotri.

Narayana Smaranam!

The first step in spiritual life is the clear knowledge and firm conviction that God alone is true, infinite and the very form of bliss. One who firmly believes in this does not have any attachment to external things or any desire for enjoyment arising from them. If not sense pleasures, people continually crave for pleasures associated with the ego. They revel in the temporary joy born of thoughts like “I am very rich, I am a great leader, I am a great scholar, I am a great devotee, I am a great jnani…” and consider themselves fulfilled. Even great people who have renounced all kinds of worldly pleasures forget their goal because of their desire for these egocentric pleasures. Pleasures arising out of sense objects and indulgence in the ego will perish in a moment and result in great sorrow. Divine happiness arising out of remembrance of the Lord (ishwara-smaranam) alone is untouched by sorrow. Since God is eternal, the happiness arising out of Him is also eternal and has no association with sorrow. Those who have the discrimination to know this, revel in the constant remembrance of the Lord and not in anything else. Through remembrance of the Lord, they purify not only themselves, but the entire world. For an asthika (one who firmly believes in the existence of God) there is no greater service to the world than the service through the remembrance of the Lord. All other kinds of service are inferior to this. So, do the sadhana of ishwara smaranam without a break.

Swami Tapovan Maharaj

Param Pujya Swami Tapovan Maharaj – Seated erect even in his last days.

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