Sanathana Tradition (Hindu way of life) lays importance to Guru Shishya Order. This discipline has its roots back to the days of Vedas: Veda proclaims “Acharya Devo Bhava” meaning Guru is Lord Almighty Himself. So it proclaims, “Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheswaraha – Guru Sakshat Param Brahma Tasmai Sri Guruve Namaha”. Guru is Brahma, Guru is Vishnu, Guru is Iswara – Guru is the embodiment of that omnipotent and Omniscient Brahman, salutations to Him. Adi Sankara, who brought a renaissance to Hindu Pantheon, declared that the “Brahman” is in you and in the form of ultimate intellect. That ultimate knowledge is “Self Realisation” – the experiences of the entire creation, protection and destruction in you. Having propounded the theory of oneness in you and God (Monism). He ultimately pronounced – “Guror Angri Padme Thathah Kim. Thathah Kim – Thathah Kim”. There is nothing supreme than the lotus feet of Guru. Such is the greatness of “Guru Tatva”. Guru leads one to light from Darkness. So he is called Guru. Adi Sankara having declared the eternal truth set four branches in four directions of the Indian Soil. In North, it is Badrikasram, in the East Puri, in the West Dwarka and in the South it is Sringeri. The four mutts are still continuing the preaching of this Doctrine of Monism, in an unbroken chain Guru Parampara. The sixth in the Guru Parampara of “Badrikasram” known as Jyothir Mutt is Swami Gnanananda Giri, whose spiritual radiance permeated through the Eastern part of Asia for over 300 years. Swami Gnanananda Giri, to perpetuate the Chain of Guru Parampara, adopted Swami Haridhos Giri as his successor. Swami Haridhos Giri, affectionately called as Guruji, continued the mission of His Master by establishing’ Samajams’ in East and West, in addition to branches all over India. He has initiated ‘Swami Namananda Giri’ (Namaji) as His successor and that unbroken chain of Guru Parampara continues.
Looking back on “Swami Namananda Giri’s” early years, one can see the making of the ‘Saint’ in him. It is often said that one should not ponder upon the mundane life of any saint. ‘Rishi Moolam & Nadhi Moolam’ ought not to be explored upon. One should not attempt to investigate on the source of a River and Source of a Rishi as both are beyond human comprehension. But the course of a River or life of a Saint can be experienced as seen from the benefits the humanity receives from both.
‘Swami Namananda Giri’ (Namaji) in his mundane life was named as Dandapani. The name itself indicates that he will one day see the path of renunciation. ‘Dandapani’ is one of the names attributed to Lord Muruga. The story behind this is a well known one. Lord Siva with His Consort Parvathi, once, was having a fruit in His hand. He told his two sons, Vinayaka and Muruga that he will give the fruit to one, who makes a round of the world first. Lord Muruga mounted on his Peacock began to make a journey round the world. Lord Vinayaka in his inimitable way went round his parents and got the fruit. Muruga cursed himself and admired the intelligent approach of his brother Vinayaka. Then he took a stick in his hand (Dandapani) and robed as a Sanyasi mounted on his Peacock and flew to Palani Hills. The reality behind this incident is to express being represented by Vinayaka by going round him and Muruga traveling the entire Universe. Dandapani, the name represents total renunciation from the worldly action and plunging into the spiritual realization. This was well evident from the childhood days of Namaji. Though he was normal like any other Youth in his external activities, his mind was always in search of the eternal truth. He least interested himself in mundane activities or pleasures of life. After completing his early school studies, came to Madras to further his employment and got a placing in a State Government job. This was only for fulfilling his commitment to his parents. His search for truth, gave him the acquaintance of Sri Nott Annaji Rao. A great Musician who had mastered Music and Sampradaya Bhajans. He is the purvasrama father of Swami Haridhos Giri (Guruji).
Swami Namananda Giri’s Association dates back to 1950′s when in contact with our Swami Haridhos Giri (Guruji) of Sri Gnanananda Giri Peetam, Thennangur. In the month of Ashada, the full moon day in the holy month is “Guru Poornima”. On this day, in the year 1959, (on 7th July 1959) Sri Gnanananda Nama Sankirtana Mandali was founded with the blessings of Sathguru Swami Gnanananda Giri, at Panduranga Mandir, Vadapalani, Madras. It was started of its own accord and the witnesses for its formation are the three of them: Swami Haridhos Giri, Swami Namananda Giri and Sri T.R.Ramamurthi Sastri.
The immortal Sri Nott Annaji Rao who was a doyen in the field of Sampradaya Bhajan, patronized the Mandali and headed the Nama Sankirtana Bhajan and taught them the Sampradaya Bhajan in the traditional style. Sri Nott Annaji Rao was a jewel amongst the Bhagawathas and he had a special soft comer for the then rustic young lad, who was keen to learn Sankeerthanam. Sri Namaji had never undergone any special training in music and did not possess any basic knowledge on karnatic music. But Sri Nott Annaji Rao had chosen Namaji as his successor and he helped him to get the blessings from Sri Gnanananda Giri Swamigal. As a token of his accepting Namaji as his chosen disciple in Namasankeerthanam, Sri Nott Annaji Rao had handed over his own “Jalara” (Tal) to Sri Namaji.
At a very tender age, like true disciples of the great master, both Sri Guruji and Sri Namaji went around our motherland to spread the message of our master and the spiritual teachings and of course Namasankeerthanam. They had undergone innumerable difficulties on all front as they were young, though full of knowledge, their looks prevented them to be accepted by elders. They had bare minimum cash at their disposal in their life. On many occasions they had to walk their entire distance to perform namasankeerthanam throughout the night for a paltry sum for the priceless “Nama”.
It was Swami Gnanananda who spotted these talented twins, Guruji and Namaji. Swami Gnanananda initiated Guruji and shaped him, his Chief Disciple. Endowed with the grace of Guru Maharaj. Guruji became the shining star of the Great Master. Though he was in service, Sri Namaji had his mind set on “Sri Gnanananda Giri Swamigal” who had advised him to be a part of our Sri Guruji in all his activities. Namaji became his first follower and disciple. Namaji thereafter remained as a shadow of Guruji. He was virtually managing the spiritual activities of Guruji in the conduct of Bhajans & Melas. As said earlier, Namaji was not interested in furthering his official duties and waited for an opportunity life as he was always not interested in the routine activities. Yet, it is again the desire of Guruji, Namaji went through this Asrama – Gruhastasram – Namaji spent his entire prime of his life with Guruji and he became part and parcel of Guruji. Thus Sri Guruji had started Mandalis at various centers and Sri Namaji assisted him.
Sri Guruji had taken a few chosen disciples to Himalayas in 1993, and on September 9th, 1993, after successful completion of the spiritual tour, Guruji therefore thought fit to ordain Namaji as his successor in his spiritual mission. Gave him the Sansaya Asrama at the holy city of Haridwar on the banks of Ganges and ordained him as Asrama name of Swami Namananda Giri. Hailing at the Guru Parampara of Swami Gnanananda Giri and dedicated his life for Nama prachara and spreading the bliss of eternal happiness – Ananda, he was rightly named as ‘Nama Ananda Giri’ by Guruji.
It was an unforgettable occasion when Sri Guruji had perhaps intended to announce that Sri Namaji should carry on with the unfinished tasks, just the way Sri Gnanananda Giri Swamigal had honoured our Guruji at Thapovanam in 1973 among the chosen few. We had to face a great misfortune when His Holiness Swami Haridhos Giri took “Jala Samadhi” on 4th September, 1994 at Prayag.
After the Jalasamadhi of Guruji on 4th September 1994, Sri Namaji was inducted to the trust founded by Guruji (Viz. G. A. TRUST) as Managing Trustee. From that day onwards, he has been the spiritual guide to the devotees of Guruji spreading his Master’s Voice, heard by millions of devotees far and near. The grace of Guru Maharaj coupled with the force of Guruji, Namaji shines as a spiritual star of Nama Sankeerthana Tradition.
Sri Namaji has now been touring all over the world propagating the ideal of Nama Sankeerthanam. He travels throughout the year and conducts lectures and bhajans to uplift the masses from the bondage of life. His musical discourses are well attended by the devotees who experience the Nama Ananda and liberate themselves from miseries of the world. Sri Namaji has also been conducting this Namasankirthanam every second Sunday at the Narada Gana Sabha in Chennai.
We fervently await Sri Guruji’s arrival with the hope that we should be in his company again – that is what Sri Namaji says often. Sri Namaji keeps himself busy with the spiritual activities of the Peetam and Mandalis. We appeal to Sathguru Gurunathar to give us sufficient strength to share the burden of Sri Namaji’s task.
Swami Namananda Giri, the Chief disciple of Guruji, is the present Pontiff (Peedathipathi) of Sri Gnanananda Giri Peetam, established by Guruji at Thennangur in Tamilnadu, India.