The following is an interview with Swami Mukundananda by Nilima Mehra, producer with Global TV Network of the Washington, D.C. area, that was broadcast Aug. 19, 2011.
Nilima Mehra: I read your biodata. You are such an accomplished educationalist. Please tell us first something about your education.
Swami Mukundananda: Well, Nilimaji, I first did [a bachelor’s degree in technology] in mechanical engineering from IIT Delhi. After that, I went on to do MBA from IIM Calcutta. I worked for some time in a company named Tata- Burroughs. That was the time when the IT industry in India was just taking off. This was one of the first IT companies in India.
NM: Please tell our viewers, why did you give up all this professionalism and move on to spirituality?
SM: Nilimaji, while I was doing engineering, there were many questions which came to my mind. We were being exposed to a number of laws of science. But my question was, “Why are there laws in existence? Who is the lawmaker? What is my purpose in this creation? Why am I here? What is the goal of life? These questions were not being answered in science. When I began my management course, I was being taught all the humanities subjects as well. Yet, I found my questions still remained unanswered. That was the time I came across the philosophy of the Bhagavad Geeta, through a class fellow on mine. When I started reading the Geeta, it was as if all my doubts got resolved at the same time. The conviction came very strongly, that I am not the body, I am the eternal soul. I am a tiny part of God. And that my goal in life is to serve God. So, along with my studies, I started practicing spiritual sadhana. That was so relishable, so blissful!! I began spending my weekends in the ashram with devotees. The decision came very strong, that this is what I wish to do in life. I did take a job. But it did not satisfy me. The question arose in my mind, “ Is this the fulfillment of my life? To put in my best efforts to enhance the profits of the shareholders of this company? I decided if I have to serve, then why not serve the Supreme Almighty?“
SM: While I was working, my training period was complete. I had been assigned to a project in the United States. I was thinking, let me go around and see the world. And later, I will take sannyas (monkhood) At that time, a sannyasi (monk) told me a very interesting incident. He said: There was a person sitting on the banks of the Ganges river, with chipped rice in front of him, thinking of offering it to the Lord. The doubt in his mind, however, was, that if he offered the chipped rice, maybe the Lord would take it all and there would be nothing left for himself. He was thinking, “Should I offer it? Should I not offer it? “ In the meantime, a gust of wind came, and all the rice was blown away. So the person said, “Oh Lord, I offer everything to you!” Now that offering makes no sense, when it has blown out of his hands. In the same way, the sannyasi (monk) said to me, “if you come in your old age and tell the Lord I have surrendered to You, God will say what is the meaning of this surrender? When you have your future in front of you, and you offer it to the Lord, He will accept that yes, you have made a sacrifice for me.” That story touched me so deeply in the heart that I immediately resigned from my job and took sannyas (monkhood).
NM: Swamiji, give us your ideas, your input and your inner feelings on: What is mediation? Who should meditate? Where does one reach with meditation? How often should one meditate?
SM: All of us are tormented by the mind. The mind, if it is controlled, focused and pure, it is our best friend. The uncontrolled mind can be our worst enemy. As John Milton said, “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” So everyone realizes it is important to train, purify and elevate the mind. To fill and enrich it with inspiring thoughts. This is what is accomplished by this tool called meditation. There are innumerable techniques of meditation prevalent the world over. True and proper meditation, is that which helps us unite with God. In other words, the object of our mediation should be the Lord Himself. He is Divine. He is beyond the realm of material energy. We are to attach our minds to Him.
NM: We are getting priceless advice from you Swamiji. Regarding, anger, lust and desires for material possessions, how do we balance between the material and spirituality? How do you define the two?
SM: Very often, people feel that these two are mutually exclusive. The materialist views the spiritualist as someone who is idle, reducing the productivity of society and wasting time. The spiritualist blames the materialist with lack of character and values, along with all the evil seen in society. People seem to feel the spiritual and the material are poles apart. But that is not the Vedic viewpoint. There are two sciences. Two branches of knowledge that you need to cultivate in the goal of life. You need spirituality in life for cultivating the virtues of the mind and the intellect. Without that, no materialist can be happy. No matter how much wealth they have. If they do not have inner peace, happiness will elude them. The great scientist Albert Einstein said science has succeeded in denaturing the plutonium atom, but it cannot denature the evil in man’s heart. For that, we need spiritual science. At the same time, material science is required for the maintenance of the body. This body needs protein and vitamins, for example. With material science we understand and harness the forces of external nature and utilize it for the maintenance of the body. Even to attain God, we need to take care of our body. This body is the vehicle used to attain God.
So if a spiritualist says, ‘I am the soul and not the body’ and proceeds to neglect the body, this is a wrong, incomplete view. The perfect viewpoint is that we need materialism for the body and spirituality for the cultivation of the mind and intellect. When we reconcile these two sciences, we will reach the goal of life.
The path to true happiness is not in increasing our material possessions. The happiness we have been searching as eternal souls will be attained from God. Let’s make God-realization the goal of our life. Let’s put that spirituality as the first priority in our life. On a daily basis, take out some time to nourish your own soul, to enrich your mind and intellect with spirituality. In other words, regularly do some spiritual practice. Just as you take care of the body because you know it is important to maintain health, similarly take care of your soul by practicing spirituality. If we do it regularly for a half hour or an hour a day, the results will be tremendous. The balance, serenity and harmony we are looking for will be within our grasp.
What made Swami Mukundananda (IIT & IIM alumni) to make his own way?
Swami Mukundananda is one of those IIT alumni who have been a great source of inspiration for everyone in many ways. Swami Mukundananda has always been asked such questions as what made him to quit engineering and start the journey of Spiritualism?
It was to understand the absolute truth which made him to start his journey of spiritualism.
He inspires people to know more about their life’s purpose, solving their internal quests and giving them most practical solutions which they can follow in their day to day routines.
Contact: secretary@ jkyog.org website: www.jkyog.org. Attend Swami Mukundanandas Yoga, Meditation and Spiritual Discourses in USA. See the schedule for your city: www.jkyog.org/2013.