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Feeling the void

CHARUKESI

Swami Naamananda Giri, Naamaji, as he was addressed, attained mukti on September 24, in Delhi.

File Photo

CALMING PRESENCE: Swami Naamananda Giri (centre) seen with (from left) Dwaram Mangathyaru, Ramnad Raghavan, K.S. Rangachari and Vaigal,S. Gnanaskandan at a function.

It was the second Sunday of the month. Time: 3.00 p.m. Venue: Sadguru Gnanananda Hall. As always the place was packed. There was, however, one big difference — the conspicuous absence of Swami Naamananda Giri on the stage. Naamaji, as he was af fectionately addressed, always led the Sunday Harinama Sankirtanam of the Bhagavata Sammelan Samajam, till he attained mukti on September 24, in Delhi.

Charged with emotion

His image with the raised right hand showing the index and middle fingers — the sign of hailing Radhey-Krishna — adorned the stage, along with a score and more of bhagavatars of the Bhajan Mandali.

The air-conditioner wasn’t on but the audience did not mind the stuffy atmosphere. Said a woman from Adyar, “I find peace of mind and forget everything during the couple of hours I sit here listening to the bhajans!”

Following the jala-samadhi of Swami Haridhos Giri in 1994 at Alaknanda, Naamaji took over the responsibility of conducting the Naama Sankirtan on second Sundays.

The origin of the formation of Bhagavata Naama Sankirtan Mela can be found in the book, ‘The Guru and His Disciple,’ by Naamaji (Sri Gnanananda Seva Samajam, No. 31, Sadayappa Mudali Street, Chennai 600 028), wherein he describes how the formation of the Naama Sankirtan groups grew into a movement: “In the beginning, in the name of Naama Sankirtan, devotees were singing the glory of the Lord in verses and poems in praise of Him, according to their choice. They were on different Gods and Goddesses and there was no format in which they were sung. The man responsible for a proper order in the reciting Naama Sankirtan was Marudanallur Sri Sadguru Swamigal.

However, in due course, bhajan-singing took precedence over Naama Sankirtan.

“However, men of eminence such as Pudukottai Gopalakrishna Bhagavatar, Tirunelveli Ayyasami Bhagavatar, Naat Annaji Rao, Narayana Sastrigal and others took efforts to spread Naama Sankirtan in the original traditional style. Because of these great men the glory of Naama Sankirtan spread throughout Tamil Nadu and in the process Naama Sankirtan Mandalis were established. Slowly, this style spread to the North too.”

Naamaji, in his foreword to the book states: “I was fortunate enough to meet Guruji [Swami Haridhos Giri] for the first time in 1950 at Siddalinga Math and since then Guruji and I visited Gurunathar often. It was his earnest desire that we establish Naama Sankirtan Mandalis in various towns and cities.”

Years of penance

Sri Jayakrishna Vittaldas, who spoke after the Naama Sankirtan, said it is not easy for one to take sanyasa. One gets it only after years of punya and penance.

He sang two abhangs at the close, while Sri Janakirama Bhagavatar spoke about the simplicity of Naamaji and his childlike disposition, as well as, his humility that enabled him to carry forward the movement his Guruji had left behind.

“The Sunday Naama Sankirtan by the mandali members will continue,” said R. Krishnaswami, president, Narada Gana Sabha.

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