Acharya Swami Pranavanandaji Maharaj
The founder & world teacher
“His Divine Birth”
Swami Pranavanandaji Maharaj was born in the year 1896 on the auspicious day of Maghi-Purnima (the full moon day of February). He was born in the village of Bajitpur of Faridpur district of East Bengal, India. Presently former East Bengal is known as Bangladesh, an independent country. His parents were Bishnucharan Bhuiya and Sarada Devi. Both his parents were the ardent devotees of Lord Nilarudra Mahadev. Before the birth of the divine child, Bishnucharan and Sarada Devi dreamt in a wonderful dream that Lord Shiva would be coming to their home to bless them. With the blessings of Nilarudra Shiva, Swami Pranavanandaji was born. The little blessed child brought enormous joy to his family. In his childhood days he was called Budha, Jainath and later Binode.
Little Binode never behaved like an ordinary child. He was very calm, quiet, his mind was always in meditation and he was a natural devotee of Lord Shiva. He was often seen meditating under a tree in the adjacent garden. He was attending the village high school, but his mind never wanted to learn so-called academic knowledge. Rather, he himself became a role model, which the fellow students would follow. The teachers were all amazed at his attitude and they loved him very much. His body was well built, he had a very gentle nature, and his movement was always soft and gentle. He practiced speech control, and always had a smile on his face. His divine appearance attracted youth of all ages, and they looked up to him as someone wonderful. In fact, he was the source of inspiration to many.
“His Growing up”
Back to top Binode was very dedicated and obedient to his mother. Almost everyday a mongoose would enter their kitchen and drink all the milk. One day his mother asked him to catch that mongoose. Binode gladly entered the deep jungle and somehow caught it. When his mother saw what Binode did, she smiled and then let the animal go back into the jungle. Regular exercise, determination, simple and pure living and truthfulness made Binode very strong. His natural quality was food control, thought control, speech control, movement control and sense control. Binode would go regularly to the village cremation ground not far from his home, and spend hours in meditation. By sitting there, he would think how perishable this human body is and how it is so temporary. His mind would travel beyond, searching for the enlightened world of God. He was a natural yogi. As he grew up, his love for meditation grew tremendously. Sometimes he would go to the cremation ground at midnight and merge in divinity.
“Love for the suffering one”
Binode often had a group of young men with him. Together they would help the village people to nurse the sick and take them to the doctor and to bring the deceases to the cremation ground. He also helped the poor villagers by making roads in the village. Occasionally fire would break out in a villager home, Binode and his boys would go and put the fire off. On Saturday and Sunday he would go home to home and collect rice and other vegetables. Once enough food was collected he would then distribute it to the very, very poor ones. In fact, his kind heart always cried for the poor, sick and disabled people. From his early childhood days he never believed in caste system. Rather, he believed all human beings are children of God and that they are all equal. On weekends he would sit with the village boys in the evening and chant hymns and prayers of the Almighty Lord. He encouraged them to come every weekend and join with him in chanting and prayers.
“His God Realization”
Back to top Mother Saradadevi used to do arati and worship a Tulsi plant every evening. When Binode was only six years old, being curious he wondered, why she worshiped a plant everyday. Even though Binode saw Mother Saradadevi doing arati to the Tulsi plant, one day, while he was standing on the roof, he threw something on the plant. At that moment Binode saw Lord Narayana appeared at that holy plant. He then realized that Tulsi plant was not an ordinary plant. Binode became a dedicated devotee to the Tulsi plant. He then encouraged everyone to worship this holy plant. Another incident happened. During the time of Durga Puja the entire state of Bengal was in a festive mood. The village Zaminder, Harabilash Babu requested Binode to attend at least one day of his puja. He always believed that if Binode attended his puja, all his desires will be fulfilled. It was the day of Maha-Asthami puja, the main day for Durga puja. Binode forgot all about this day. The quiet and beautiful landscape of the village Bengal, drawn him to the Bajitpur cremation ground where he merged into deep meditation. It was midnight, the sounds of bells, drums and sanhai entered into his ears. Binode opened his eyes and suddenly remembered that Harabilash Babu requested him to go to his Durga puja. He stood up and slowly walked towards the temple of mother Durga. Zaminder Harabilash Babu kept waiting for Binode late into the night. He looked here and there, but there was no sight of Binode. He was broken hearted and finally went inside his room to rest. There was no one in the temple, except the beautiful and huge idol of Mother Durga and a small earthen lamp. Binode looked at the divine Mother, and then a thought came to his mind. Devotees come and worship this idol of the Mother and think of her as real. They offer their prayers at her feet and ask for her blessings, thinking she listens to them and bless them. Is it true that she can help us, or it is an illusion of our mind? He looked straight into the eyes of the divine Mother Durga and said to her “Oh mother, if you are true, if you really accept the offerings of your devotees in this form, then please appear before me. If you do not show me your real appearance, I will never believe in you, I will know that all these pujas mean nothing”. A tense moment passed, Binode was standing with folded hands, tears in his eyes and very emotional. He silently appealed to mother to appear in front of him if she was real. Mother was pleased with Binode and was happy to show her real form to him. Suddenly, Binode saw a flood of light covered the entire temple. As he looked in front of him, he saw the divine appearance of Mother Durga, that divine Mother was standing in front of him in her heavenly appearance. He could see her eyes blinking and her hands moving. There was a bright divine smile on her face. The lion, the snake and the demon were all alive. Standing next to her was Mother Saraswati, Mother Lakshmi, Lord Ganesha, Lord Kartikeya, the peacock, the mouse, the swan, the owl all came in their living form. Binode was surrounded by peace, divinity and love. The divine Mother placed her hands on the head of Binode and gave him special blessings.
“Bravery of Binode”
Back to top Binode was always the symbol of bravery. He never knew fear even existed on this earth. Usually, ordinary people are scared of cremation grounds, bushy and lonely areas. There was a big banyan tree in an open field in the village of Bajitpur. Everyone believed that ghost and goblins lived in that tree. Many of them said that they saw demons there. People were scared to go there even in bright daylight. But Binode was fearless, and he used to go there frequently in the day, the evening time and at midnight. Nothing bothered him at all.
“His Physical Strength”
Binode never ate fish or meat in his entire life. He seldom took milk, yet his physical strength was immeasurable. On one occasion the village priest wanted to know why he would not even take milk. Binode told him that it was not true that only fish, meat, milk and other rich food can make one strong. He believed that the main source for a strong body and good health are, sense control and preservation of God given power. Simple food was enough for him to maintain his health. Practically speaking, he strongly emphasized on preservation of God given power. He always mentioned to everyone that simple vegetarian food, green vegetables, fruits, constructive thoughts, regular exercise, meditation, disciplined life, faith in God and respect for the elderly are the secret for a long and healthy life. One time, he mentioned that he could even break the cemented wall with only one kick. Such was his power. In fact, he was stronger than his brothers who ate fish, meat and other rich foods.
As Binode grew up, his thirst for spirituality increased rapidly. He started to spend more time in meditation and in self-contemplation. More so, he was very much disturbed to see the downfall of the youth. It bothered him day and night. Naturally he was calm and quiet, but he became very restless seeing what was going on. His only thoughts were, how to save the youth from moral degradation. His mental agony was unbearable. He approached the principal of his school, Sri Birendralal Bhattacharya and told him that he would renounce the world and take the life of an ascetic to help the youth and the fallen and untouchable ones. Sri Birendralal was a seeker of divinity. He was a disciple of Baba Gambhirnathji who was a great yogi at that time. He observed the restlessness in Binode and knew that this was very unusual. Sri Birendralal took Binode to the Ashram of Baba Gambhirnathji in Gorakhpur. Babaji was thrilled to see Binode. As he looked at Binode, he recognized what a true and eager disciple he was. Through his inner vision he saw that in the future Binode would bring a huge change to the Hindu society. Baba Gambhirnathji was indeed very happy to have such a disciple and transferred his spiritual power to Binode. Baba Gambhirnathji transferred his spiritual power to Binode.
Back to top Binode spent some time in Gorakhpur practicing yoga and meditation. There was a tremendous change in his attitude and approach. In fact, he was contemplating in his spirituality so much that he did not even care about his own physical condition. It was his Guru Baba Gambhirnathji who always took care of him. Binode then came to Kashi Dham to do some more austerities. He spends hours after hours at the bank of the Ganges doing meditation. At one time he had a very high fever and suddenly fell unconscious. An old woman started to come everyday to feed and nurse him. In this way he was back to normal health. It was said and believed by everyone that she was Mother Annapurna herself who took care of her devotee. Binode then came to Gayadham, a very famous pilgrim place in India. He intended to do oblation ceremony for his departed father at the footprint of Lord Bishnu and to do some more spiritual practices at the Brahmayoni mountain. As he got off the train, a group of pandas (priests) began to harass him, seeking to be hired to do the oblation ceremony. Unfortunately, their behavior was intolerable, as they were fighting among themselves. Each one of them fought to gain Binode’s business. Binode became very disturbed and realized that it would not be possible for him to do oblation ceremony peacefully. He also realized that it was very much needed to reorganize all these Hindu Holy places. There was a tremendous need to create a healthy environment in all these important places, so that people can do their spiritual performances peacefully. At that very moment, he took a vow, that in the future one of his main work would be to reform Gayadham and other pilgrim places of India.
“His final attainment”
Binode came back to Bajitpur, his native place. He was a different Binode, his mother was very worried about him. Binode began to spend most of his time in his spiritual search. His eyes were tearful, his mind and thoughts went far away and he always merged into divinity. Finally, it was the year of 1916. It was again the full moon day in February (Maghi Purnima) which is a very auspicious day. Binode sat quietly under a Kadamva tree and merged into deep meditation. The time was ripe. The time had come to give the fruits for all the years of penance that were performed. His mind, body and thoughts were ready to receive that divine power. Once Binode was lost in divinity, he attained the highest spiritual wisdom and liberation from illusion, attachment and the cycle of birth and death. He became free from sorrows, sickness and other sufferings of life. He attained Nirvana and he attained highest spiritual wisdom. At that moment God was revealed in his heart. He felt a divine joy throughout his entire body. Binode lost consciousness. He went deeply into spirituality. After a long period of time Binode opened his eyes and uttered these words- “this is the age of Maha-Milan, Maha-jagaran, Maha-mukti and Maha-saman-nyaya. Universal togetherness, universal awakeing, liberation of mankind and universally unitedness.” On Maghi Purnima, February 1916 Binode attained highest spiritual wisdom.
“Bharat Sevashram Sangha was founded”
Binode founded the Bharat Sevashram Sangha in the year of 1917. It has now become one of the largest monastic missions of India. It was first established in Bajitpur, a very remote village in Bengal. Gradually, branches of the Sangha were established all over India and throughout the globe. Bharat Sevashram Sangha became a source of pride for the country. In 1923 the organization was officially registered as a non-profit, charitable, religious Hindu Monastic organization.
“Binode became Swami Pranavananda”
There was no need for Binode to take sanyas outwardly, because he was a born yogi and an enlightened soul. After analyzing the future of his organization and the importance of Sanyas in society, especially in the monastic life, Binode decided to take Sanyas. For that reason he attended Allahabad Ardh-Kumbh Mela in 1924, and was initiated to Sanyas by Swami Gobindananda Giriji Maharaj. Binode was named after Swami Pranavananda. In this way, Swami Pranavananda included himself and his monks in the Dash-nami Sampradaya which was introduced by Adi-Sankaracharya. In that same year, he himself initiated seven of his own disciples into monk hood. The rest of Swami Pranavananda’s life was dedicated to selfless service and activities for mankind.
“Friend of the Youth”
Swami Pranavanandaji was always a friend of the youth. The time came when hundreds and thousands of young men and women were joining the Indian Independence movement to free Mother India from British rule. These youth left their homes, schools and colleges to fight and free their country. They were like rent cloud, running here and there afraid to be arrested. Swami Pranavananda
loved these youth from the bottom of his heart. He gave them shelter, food and overall guidance to build up their moral life. Many of them spent lots of time with him. Eventually, some of them became lifetime monastic members of Bharat Sevashram Sangha. Apart from those youth, wherever he went there was continuous flow of youth coming to him for inspiration, good company, guidance, sympathy, advice and friendship. He molded the lives of thousands of youth and made them good citizens of Mother India.
Swami Pranavanandaji giving good advise to the young and old.