Interview with Swami Tejomayananda

Swami Tejomayananda

When we approached H H Swami Tejomayananda for an interview, we got a quick retort. "I have already given a message in the inaugural issue, why an interview?". After much persuasion, he consented to take only a look at the questions.

But finally as luck would have it, it was a face-to-face session on the auspicious occasion of Shivaratri. Even as I entered, I was dubious whether he would put me off seeing the long queue at his Kutia. As if sensing this, he relaxes me immediately with humour, saying: "See the Brahmacharis at the temple are trying to imitate my way of chanting. He relaxes me with thoughtfulness too. 'Here, take this desk for your writing support."
Then he is all attention.... he deliberates upon the questions, pauses, ponders and then only speaks out.

Here he is for you all ....

Swamiji, your becoming the Mission Head was so sudden. Was it too drastic a move in your eyes? Do you feel as if you are forced to wear shoes too big for your feet?

Pujya Gurudev during Suvarna Tulabharam in 1991 had first hinted to me that I will have to return from USA and take up His organizational work. This he repeated many times thereafter and in 1993 he specifically had written to me to return to India and take up CCMT work.

Then I thought that he would train me under his guidance for which I was mentally prepared. But then very suddenly the situation took turns and I was placed in this position. So in a way I was prepared, in another I was not. But I do not feel overawed, for though technically I am the Head, I feel I am only a servant of Gurudev. There is no question of wearing too big shoes.

Do you feel that the present Mission Chief should nominate the next Chief. Will this create, lesser confusion?
This is too early to comment upon...

How do you feel people both inside and outside the Mission have received you, in your new capacity?
All my colleagues have supported me and there is ample cooperation from the Mission Members as well. I have also received encouraging responses from people in general. I thank them all for the same.

What are the changes, if any, that you plan to bring about both in the administrative and field areas?
Pujya Gurudev has already established the Mission well, leaving only some projects like the International Residential School and the Vedantic research work at Chinmaya International Foundation. So at present my work is to consolidate both these plans and then as projects come up I will work for those.

How would you reassure some of the Brahmacharis feeling very insecure after Gurudev's mahasamadhi?
Their feeling of insecurity is not only understandable, but also natural. I have been undertaking tours of various Centers and meeting the Brahmacharis and other Swamis. I have been able to instill confidence in them and I am sure their fears will die away.

Talking of Brahmacharis, those who are engaged in non-prachara work feel that they are not given due deal......
Those Brahmaacharis need not feel neglected. Those working in the administrative areas can conduct Yajnas/ classes in the evening. No work is beneath one's dignity. Although Yajnas do boost the morale of Brahmacharis, other activities of the Mission are equally important. In fact a person who cooks for Gurudev would do more Seva for Him than one who would sing Bhajans before him. Of course it is true that the singer gets all the applause.

Should not Brahmacharis be exposed to all the activities of the Mission during the two-and-a-half years of study so that they can choose work according to their aptitudes?
Yes, we are thinking along those lines.

Why is it some of your students believe that you are extra loving to the devotees and extra strict with the students, especially those trained under you?
Yes, I have also heard about this, but I don't think I am partial to devotees. If at all there, is any strictness shown to students, it is because they are Mission workers. So extra strictness is really extra care to groom them to be extraordinary messengers of Vedanta.

You are not merely a good singer but a musician as well. Have you had any classical training?
No, I had no classical training whatsoever although I have been playing on the harmonium since the age of three. Music is my passion and I make my own compositions.

Were you spiritual even in your childhood?
I was born and bred in a spiritual minded family and my mother took special care to expose me to the works of Maharashtrian saints. I did get a little distracted in my high school days, but by God's grace I again came under the influence of spirituality. Works of Swami Vivekananda inspired me and in 1969, Gurudev's -Geeta talks at Bhopal pulled me to Sandeepany Sadhanalaya.

Could you please share an unforgettable experience with Gurudev?
Once I went to the Ganges alone with him. We were just two of us together while bathing. This is to me a very sacred experience with him.

With what motto should a Pracharak live and work in his daily life?
I would answer in the language of Bhagavan Sri Krishna. 'Remember the Lord and perform your duties."

What would be your message to the Grihastha devotees?
Even for the Grihasthas their work alone should be their worship, their Sadhana.

What is the ultimate purpose of human life?
It is the intellect that distinguishes man from animal and therefore whatever is the purpose of the intellect is the purpose of human life. The intellect is meant for enquiry into the nature of truth about everything. Therefore to know the absolute truth is the real purpose of human life. However, towards that end one should cultivate purity of mind by performance of duties, wholeheartedly.


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