More about Swami Vishwananda
Sri Swami Vishwananda was born in 1978 into a Hindu family on the island of Mauritius. It quickly became clear that he was not an ordinary child. Since his early years, he lived in the conscious presence of God and Saints. He was not very interested in the typical activities of a child, but instead spent every free minute praying, visiting temples and performing rituals.
At the age of five he was visited for the first time by his Guru, Mahavatar Babaji. Many miracles and phenomena occurred around him and his wisdom and loving character gave indication that He was endowed with spiritual greatness. Over time, his unique personality began to attract more and more people who visited him, seeking his blessing and advice, firstly on the island of Mauritius, then also in other countries once he started to travel on a regular basis. After finishing his schooling, he began to follow his vocation as a spiritual teacher and he accepted invitations to various parts of the world. In 1998 he visited Europe for the first time and made many new friends. These friends then started to visit him on Mauritius and several of them eventually became his disciples.
“Saints love everyone in the same way. They see that everybody is part of God and His creation. For them the question about race, culture or religion doesn’t arise. We should take their example. Our planet and all life on it were created through love, preserved through love and will return to love.”
Over the years, a group of talented musicians and painters formed itself around him - together they have performed, composed and recorded many songs and painted dozens of beautiful icons.
As Swami Vishwananda embraces all religions and cultures, over the years the two traditions of East and West have reached a harmonious balance. Swami’s natural ease in connecting elements from western tradition with Hindu spirituality gives people access to a very personal experience with the Divine, regardless of culture, gender or age. Nowadays, it has become common practice for people around him to celebrate the Divine in a multi-dimensional fashion. This celebration of the Divine highlights for everyone the richness of our collective spiritual heritage.
“We are all brothers and sisters and come from the same God. Our true identity, hidden behind our emotions and thoughts of daily life, is our soul, our own true Self. To achieve outer unity with all our brothers and sisters, we have to achieve unity within, of body, mind and soul. We have to accept and love ourselves the way we are now, with our physical body, emotions and thoughts, and at the same time strive for the Soul. Mankind needs to remember that all people come from the same source and all will go back to the same source.”
In 2000/2001, Swami Vishwananda inaugurated, on the island of Mauritius, his home country, a Chapel for the Holy Mother adjacent to a Temple dedicated to the Indian Saint Sri Shirdi Sai Baba. Since then, other spiritual centers across the globe have also been established.
At the end of 2004 a property in a rural area of Germany, in a tiny village called Steffenshof, was purchased and Swami, with a handful of friends and disciples, started his first spiritual center outside of Mauritius. At first, it was simply the home of some of his European family and friends. Then it went through a rapid transformation into an Ashram, as Swami Vishwananda in 2005, decided to initiate many men and women into a monastic tradition for people who had decided to dedicate their lives to God.
From 2005 onwards he began visiting numerous countries in Europe, North America, Africa and Asia to convey his message of universal God Love.
Swami took his friends and family through all shades and colours of spirituality. He dived into Krishna consciousness, then into Christ consciousness and along with that connected with many Saints, only to move back to a phase of focusing on Sri Chaitanya, Mother Mary, Shiva, Sufism, Divine Mother Durga, Hanuman, Shirdi Sai Baba… to list but a few.
Early in 2006, Swami Vishwananda founded a spiritual order inside the Bhakti Marga family, which included both Hindu and Christian elements. The community embraced the teachings of Holy Scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita, the Bible and other timeless teachings of various Sages and Saints.
“Through the ages many teachers, many Saints & Sages have lived. Their message was, in its essence, always the same, yet wrapped in different words, languages & traditions. What we lack in this world are not the teachings on God-realisation; what we lack is people’s will to really go within and put the teachings into practice. Especially in today’s world, there exist a lot of distractions that lead to ‘outer attachments’ that are finite and cause suffering again and again when lost. People should become aware of the ‘inner attachments’ that are eternal and cause no suffering. God is always there – like the sun shining through a window. It is up to us to draw the curtains and open the window.”
The order was in many ways traditional, and included elements of rules and structures that classical orders implement. Along with that came a tendency within the Bhakti Marga family, to put Swami on a pedestal.
In autumn 2008, he dissolved the order. After his disciples had experienced this very traditional model of a monastic order and Guru Disciple Relationship, Swami changed his approach. Not everyone felt comfortable with this change, as it was not in line with their expectations. However, it was not a random act. He wanted to dissolve the traditional monastic order, which, ironically, he had helped to bring about, in order to create a different kind of spiritual community based on self responsibility and more in line with the modern age; a community with less emphasis on the external guru (often on a pedestal) and more on the members/residents in search of the “divinity within” guided by an external guru, who helps balance their consciousness.
All this happened in the middle of moving from Steffenshof to a bigger location closer to Wiesbaden and Frankfurt near a village named Springen. After the Steffenshof period, Springen marks the beginning of a new chapter and era.
In order to achieve this transition, Swami had to take himself off the pedestal on which many followers had put him. This was vital in order to encourage his disciples/devotees to look for the “divinity within” instead of projecting all their concepts of “divinity” primarily onto the external guru . This signified a radical departure from the traditional guru/disciple relationship. In so doing, some disciples were supported to go beyond the duality of good/bad, light/dark, joy/sorrow to the Divine Love within their hearts. In retrospect, this intense period provided a good opportunity to put greater focus on the inner encounter with one’s own Self.
Daily life at the Center changed significantly thereafter. There was less fixation on Swami, and a more natural and balanced way of honouring his presence. There were no longer outer rules (other than those needed for living in a community). And along with that came more clarity regarding one of the big misunderstandings of the spiritual path - the true meaning of celibacy - which, according to the Vedic tradition, is to focus within, rather than an external restriction of worldly activity and enjoyment. Daily spiritual life became relaxed, light-hearted and joyful again, and people began to go within, to listen to their own Self, their inner Guru and their hearts.
Shree Peetha Nilaya as Center Springen is now called in 2010, could be described as an open Spiritual Center, for people of all ages, creeds and backgrounds, who wish to devote their lives to Bhakti and Divine love. Some of the residents choose to lead the life of a monk or nun (but without the confinement of an outer order), some are in a relationship, some have families, some work in the Center, some outside the Center, but every resident and non-resident is fully self-responsible on a spiritual and material level. And more importantly, all residents and non-residents are connected by their inner goal of moving closer to the Divine love within themselves. Shree Peetha Nilaya is in a specific location, but its principle of a new way of experiencing and integrating their spiritual path into everyday life, is experienced by a worldwide community linked to the Center.
The central work of Sri Swami Vishwananda is to provide and teach various spiritual techniques and practises that help to cultivate Bhakti within the spiritual aspirant. Such practises include Darshan (blessing), daily prayer, ceremonies such as Yagna and Abishekam, meditation, singing, and Yoga practises as well as Mudras and Mantras.
In spring 2007 Swami introduced, on behalf of Mahavatar Babaji, the meditation and yoga techniques of Atma Kriya and OM Healing. These techniques represent a very important element in his work of supporting people on their spiritual path and he initiated a broad base of teachers over the subsequent years. As of spring 2012, over 80 teachers in three continents are now passing on these techniques.
“The greatest joy of a Master is to see the disciples grow spiritually and really become Masters themselves.”
Often Swami Vishwananda points out that one needs a lot of patience and perseverance on the spiritual path and that no quick results are to be expected. He does not wish people to be dependent on him; rather he wants them to trust God and the Guru (teacher) within their own Self.
“We should always use our common sense. It is of no use to take off and ‘fly around’, we have to stay grounded and also do our work on this earth. We have to proceed patiently and with respect to the Divine and to ourselves.”
It is Sri Swami Vishwananda’s wish to help others to find the way to their own inner divine light. Many people asking for his advice in spiritual matters, as well as for daily life matters, are deeply touched when they meet him. Swami encourages everyone to follow the intuition of their own heart. He can be seen equally as a being with Divine qualities and as human being who loves God with all his heart, and who has the ability to bring God closer to others in a very direct and simple way. He is a personification of Bhakti and an embodiment of love.
“All kinds of expectations bring pain because the one real expectation, the real thing that our soul wants, is the True Love of God. And this ‘True Love of God’, we can only find through devotion within our heart. You can go to a Master and the Master can show you the way. But it’s upon each one of you to really desire God, to really yearn for God. Because as long as you don’t yearn for God, as long as you don’t really want Him, you will always be searching. You will always put one foot in one place and the other foot in another place.
To find this real Love and realize this deep connection with God within oneself, one must practice Bhakti- devotion. When you surrender yourself full-heartedly and say, “God I want You. Reveal Yourself to me!” then God will reveal Himself. He cannot say, “No,” to you, because your Self cannot hide from yourself. This higher consciousness, that you have deep inside of you, can be revealed when your mind is centred on God. So yearn for God. Call from deep inside your heart, ‘God reveal Yourself to me! I know You are somewhere deep inside. From time to time, I do feel You. I know You are here. But I would like to feel You constantly, all the time.’ Isn’t that what each one of you wants, to feel the Love of God all the time?”
*the quotes are taken from a variety of Swami’s speeches