Swami Omkarananda (1956-2021): A Protector, Scholar, And Teacher Of Dharma

by Aravindan Neelakandan - May 11, 2021 06:12 PM +05:30 IST
Swami Omkarananda (1956-2021): A Protector, Scholar, And Teacher Of Dharma Swami Omkarananda
  • That Swami Omkarananda attained samadhi now is a great loss for Tamil Hindu society and it does feel orphaned in this loss of the physical presence of the Swami.

Swami Omkarananda was born in 1956 in a village near Coimbatore to Vaidhyanatha Ganapadi and Alamelu Ammal.

It was a family of traditional Vedic scholars and hence naturally poor.

Goshteswara Sharma was the name given by his parents and he grew up mastering Vedic recitation and rituals.

Even in his young age he had mastered Vedic recitation. His spiritual quest led him to Swami Vivekananda's works.

He obtained his sanyasa deeksha – initiation into monkhood – from Swami Chidhbavananda.

Swami Chidhbavananda was not only a great spiritual master but also a dedicated worker for society.

In the modern history of Tamil Nadu, he was verily an avataric Dharma warrior but with no pretensions of ritual sanctimoniousness.

Swami Chidhbavananda had made a commentary on the Thiruvachagam based on Sri-Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Vedanta tradition.

The initiation from this great Vedantic Maha-Acharya of Tamil Nadu, became an abiding blessing and guide for Swami Omkarananda. All these dimensions of Swami Chidhbavananda were taken forward significantly into our own times by Swami Omkarananda.

He later learnt traditionalist Vedanta from Swami Paramarthananda of the Swami Dayananda Saraswathi Guru-tradition.

Swami Omkarananda was also a great institutional builder. He founded the Swami Chidhbavananda Ashram. The Ashram became an epicenter of a host of Dharmic activities. It was verily a recreation of Vedic life in the heart of Tamil Nadu.

Following the footsteps of his deeksha-guru Swami Chidhbavananda, Omkarananda Swami took the Tamil classic Thirukural to the masses.

Thirukural, a civilizational high peak of Bharatiya culture and spirituality has been reduced to a source of stage rhetoric and a means to further Tamil chauvinism.

Swami Omkarananda valiantly rescued Thirukural from the pseudo-rationalist racial forces. He did it through various means.

Diaries with Thirukural verses and parallel verses from Hindu spiritual classics brought home to ordinary Tamils the original nature of the great classic of Thiru Valluvar.

His talks with his clear voice, natural, non-hesitating, flowing oration, filled with scholarly pearls and spiritual insights made his mesmerised audience realise the core values of Thirukural – which is as much Sanatana as any Sanatana Dharmic sacred text is.

Not only Thirukural, his other favourite are the songs of Bharathi and hymns of Thayumanavar.

The latter comes to him from Swami Chidhbavananda Guru parampara.

Subramanya Bharati was not just a freedom fighter and social reformer. What animated his poems were his eternal spiritual nucleus. Swami Omkarananda brought this out in his lectures.

Vedantic freedom, he always pointed out, was the basic substratum from which emerged the movement for political and social freedom.

His spirituality was not a spirituality limited and compartmentalised.

Again, like Swami Chidhbavananda who was the first monk to realise the importance of the RSS for the spiritual and social upliftment of Tamil Nadu, Swami Omkarananda too passionately believed in the protection of Dharma which has been under constant attacks from 'Breaking India' forces in Tamil Nadu.

Swami Dayananda Saraswathi chose him as the head of Dharma Rakshana Samithi (DRS) – a vibrant movement under Swami Dayananda Saraswathi that had spread in almost all villages infusing energy to protect Dharma in all forms of its manifestations – from renovation of village temples to immunising against proselytising.

Under Swami Omkarananda, DRS faced some tough challenging situations in Tamil Nadu and responded with vigour and dignity.

When a YouTube channel made obscene remarks on the cherished Hindu chant ‘Kantha Sashti Kavacham’, Swami Omkarananda responded with strong condemnation but without a trace of anger.

Similarly, when Thirumavalavan, a politician, misinterpreted verses from the Manusmiriti mischievously and even earned veiled support from unexpected quarters, Swami Omkarananda came out a with clear cut response that was again both scholarly and dignified. Under his guidance, the DRS grew further into a people’s movement in Tamil Nadu.

Now with Tamil Nadu again under the rule of DMK which has already started interfering in Dharmic traditions like appointment of Jeeyars etc., the Hindu society feels the need of Swami Omkarananda more acutely.

That Swami Omkarananda attained samadhi now is a great loss for Tamil Hindu society and it does feel orphaned in this loss of the physical presence of the Swami.

We Hindus traditionally hold that when great seers attain samadhi they do not cease to be but become even greater forces operating in the society through individuals and institutions, peoples, and movements to establish and protect Dharma and society.

With that in mind, even as the society accepts the physical loss, may he ever be a blessing and inspiration for the protection of Dharma and society in Tamil Nadu – particularly in these testing times.

Aravindan is a contributing editor at Swarajya.

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