Yogis of India gives a joyous glimpse into the lives of some of the great Indian spiritual masters like Ramakrishna Paramhansa Ramana Maharshi and Anandmayi Ma. It explores not just the various fascinating facets of these Saints the eternal travelers but also describes vivdly their beautiful relationship with their key shishyas. It traces the life of each yogi from birth to Mahasamadhi in the process touching the Leela or the play of the realized master that nurtures the devotee and develops the disciple.
Sanjeev Shukla a senior MNC executive hails from a deeply spiritual and literary family that has produced reputed authors and yogis. A chance encounter with a householder yogi introduced him to various esoteric sciences relating to yoga and tantra. He received spiritual initiation and the name Sivarupa from his guru Paramahansa Niranjanananda Saraswati the Paramacharya of the Satyananda yoga tradition. His fascination with the biographies of saints grew deeper over the year to finally become an all consuming passion.
My Journey from atheism to a state of theistic or spiritual belief began in the mid 1980s and was both painful and pleasurable. During this period I read about the lives of many Indian mystics and felt that their lives reflected a completeness of elements that inspired in me love, compassion, dispassion, struggle, penance, transformation and miracle.
There are two aspects to the spiritual romance central to the life of mysticism one between the lord and the devotee and the other between the guide and the aspirant. Some consider both to the same while others reject the letter. I belong to the controversial school of thought that holds that without a guru or a guide the spiritual romance of the aspirant will be incomplete. But even for those aspirants who reject this view the life of a mystic will always hold great relevance as the mystic has demonstrated the capability to transcend the boundaries of mundane existence. And this is what inspires me to share some tales of transformational lives across a series of volumes.
This is the first volume and it contains accounts of some exceptional saints who are closest to my heart. With a few exceptions the first few volumes will focus pm saints who lived in recent times within the last 200 years. Later volumes will document lives of saints from earlier periods or from different religions or faiths.
Indian saints and mystics are addressed by different titles sadhus tapasvis,, brahmacharis, yatis, bhaktas, swamis, paramhamsas, avadhuts sants tantrics, Sufis arihants, tirthankars, siddha purusas, dervishes, mayis/matas babas, goswamins, pirs, ayliyas, murshids, aghoris or gurus but in essence all of them are yogis those who have attained the objective of the path of yoga. But the eternal travelers I write about are part of a rare creed those who have already attained liberation yet take birth time and again to guide others on sacred paths.
Among my foremost inspirations are my paramagurus, Swami Sivananda Saraswati and Paramahansa Satyananda but I have documents only the former’s brief biography in this volume as the latter has only recently taken mahasamadhi.
Among other saints who are closes to my heart is my family guru, Paramhansa Ram Mangal Das, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Sai Baba of Shirdi, Mahayogi, Gambhirmath, Tailanga Swami Baba Lokenath Brahmachari and chaitanya Mahaprabhu are also very dear to me. The are others such as Seshadri Swamigal and ramana Maharishi of Tiruvannamlai too who I cannot forget. Then there is Swami Nityananda of ganeshpuri the guru of Swami Muktananda and Lahiri Mahashay the teacher of Kriya Yoga and Ramdas Kathia Baba the Vaishnava yogi par excellence. The Sufis of the Chisti Silsila who represent love and the eclectic spirit of Islam are some true marvels of God. I could go on but I would rather let readers be touched themselves by the beauty of their lives across the chapters of my books.
Once sant Nabhadas the medieval author of Bhaktamala was asked by his guru to document the biographies of saints. He protested saying it is possible though difficult for one to narrate the glories of God but the glory of saints is impossible to narrate and so I will not attempt the impossible. One may fall short of words to describe a saint and a chapter is as inadequate to capture the essence of his life as a book which itself is insufficient as a volume devoted solely to any of these saints. I can attempt only to capture some events in their lives and sketch brief outlines.
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