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Swami Cidananda – an emblem of simplicity
July 13, 2010  |  radhanath-swami

Meditations on The Journey Home – Lesson from Chapter 2

Inspirations 
from 
‘The
 Journey 
Home ‐ 
Autobiography
 of 
an 
American
 Swami’

Richard now headed to Rishikesh, and at ‘The Divine Life Mission’ founded by Swami Sivananda, he met his successor, Swami Cidananda Saraswati. Swami Cidananda was from an incredibly wealthy family from South India, and around the age of twenty, heard a calling to serve God. He worked hard, serving lepers, building huts for them. He spoke to Richard on the urgent need to attain God realization, without which this rare human life is a waste. He also emphasised on the need to abandon selfishness, and work hard to remove the weeds of negativities from the heart. He stressed on achieving God realization through mantra japa, recitation of God’s holy names. One evening he described Richard’s travels in great detail, voicing Richard’s intimate thoughts. Richard was particularly awestruck to meet someone with such power, and yet remain so simple and kind.

It’s easy to be simple when we have nothing. When success and fame comes our way, the weeds of pride also creep in, and then to remain firmly footed on simplicity and strong moral and ethical character is a challenge. Swami Cidananda’s simplicity touched Richard’s heart, and he found the Swami to be extremely friendly, respectful and humble.

My first meeting with Radhanath Swami gave me the same feelings. Although thousands flock to hear him, and shower him with lot of respect, when I went to his room, I was pleasantly surprised to see him seated on the floor with a simple mat. The walls had simple mud plasters, and he didn’t even have an attached toilet. Twelve years later I see he continues to stay in the same simple set up. Many times his students insisted that they shift him to a better house, or get an air conditioner for his room. Radhanath Swami refused any of these facilities. His room is at the centre of the monks’ ashram, and the constant noise from the resident quarters of the hundred plus members’ of the ashram can be unsettling. Yet Radhanath Swami not only has no complaints, he is happy in this setup.

Radhanath Swami warns that unless we work hard and serve others, cultivating simplicity of thought and lifestyle, we can’t become dear to God. He emphasises humble menial service to be more pleasing to God than our lofty discourses, filled with pride. “Performing some menial service to men of God is of great spiritual value, much greater than just holding high ranking positions in society”, says Radhanath Swami. His definition of ‘simple’ is simple, yet profound: “Simple means what is inside is outside. We should not try to pretend to be something we are not. We should not act in such a way that people think we are very advanced.”

I find him similar to his description of Swami Cidananda in other ways too. He too had the comforts of a loving American family but left home at the age of nineteen, and heard a calling of God. For six years he lived as a monk in an austere monastery, on a secluded mountaintop that one had to plod a three mile muddy footpath through a forest to reach. The snow-blanketed winters were frigid there and he had no heat. To bathe, he used a rock to break a layer of ice, and then dipped in the icy water. His sanitation system was to climb down a hill with shovel in hand and bury his waste in the mud. He works tirelessly hard even today, at the age of sixty. Like Swami Cidananda, he too stresses on mantra japa, and daily chants a minimum of twenty-five thousand names of the Lord on his prayer beads.

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115 Comments


  1. It is no wonder that Radhanth Swami was so very impressed with the work of Mother Teresa

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  2. Dr.Anjali S. Palav

    hare krsna, maharaj’s simplicity touches our heart. he is simply great.

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  3. Wonderful article. Especially the definition of simplicity is ,simply simple but truly profound.

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  4. A pure devotee always sees good in others and that is simlicity and honesty of H H Radhanath Maharaj.

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  5. Its so nice to read radhanath swami book “the journey home” and now nice meditations on it .. Great

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  6. In a world full of hypocrisy and double standards, it is refreshing and inspiring to see Radhanath Swami’s simplicity. He has pioneered so many projects and receives the respect and adoration of many, yet he remains simple. This is very difficult.

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  7. A pure devotee, wherever he go carry the Radha & Krishna in his heart.

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  8. The beauty of Radhanath Swami’s life and teachings is that he clearly extols the highest goal of Krishna Consciousness, but doesnt disregard the other allied principles. He appreciates them and uses them fully in Krishna’s service. This way everyone is attracted to Radhanath Swami and can understand that all good qualities are meant solely to be used for Krishna’s service. Otherwise, in themselves, they cant give the highest fulfillment the heart yearns for.

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  9. Venkata Buddhiraju

    It is endearing to see how HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj lives by the principles set by his Guru Srila Prabhupada – “Simple Living and High thinking”

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  10. This is really true that to develop simplicity especially in the age of modern world is very diffcult. There are many anarthas like pride, greed etc..pulling us down. By following the practical lives of these great souls we can achieve that.

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  11. It is very easy find bad in others but it is rather challenging and near imposible to find a good in all.But great soul Radhanath Swami always saw a good in everything that came in his way in serach of truth.A simple,humble and hard working aproach for the welfare of others is the lesson
    one should take from his mediatations.Also a complete faith is self and superself,Radhanath Swami gave us everything.Thank you very much.

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  12. Great Souls like Radhanath Swami’s life experiences teaches us how physical inconvinences pale out when one has a higher purpose in life….!

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  13. The simplicity of RADHANATH SWAMI is un-beleiavable inspite of the various achievements and projects that he has been involved in.

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  14. Seeing good every one is a sign of a great Vaishava. Radhanath Swami is teaching this by his own example.

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  15. It seems Radhanath Swami has imbibed the best qualities of great saintly personalities.From Swami Cidananda he has imbibed the qualities to be serious & sincere in his devotional service and at the same time cultivated qualities of simplicity & compassion.

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  16. “To walk your talk” thats what Maharaj is all about…Absolutely Absolute..!!

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  17. So true.. Simplicity can be genuine and voluntary when it is manifested when one has everything. To be simple in such a situation is mark of a really deep & genuine personality

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  18. Narendra Rakibe

    “Do not try to pretend what you are not”….so easy to read but so very difficult to follow. That’s why becoming “simple” in our behaviour is not so easy.Thank you very much for sharing this.

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  19. Maharaj is a very special soul who has intense desire to serve each and every one around him. I really loved his definition of “Simple” as ‘what is inside is outside’

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  20. Yes, his simplicity touches every ones hert and attracts every ones heart and takes us back to Godhead.

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  21. Radhanath Swami Maharaj’s simplicity touches everyone’s heart and reveals that how committed he is in serving towards Srila Prabhupada’s mission.

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  22. Radhanath Swami is so simple, he leads his life by example.

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  23. To live in such a challenging conditions in himalayas is so difficult. An american monk doing this for self realization and chanting names is just un-believable. I am sure he must be having lot of followers all over the world!!!!

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  24. Absolutely Brilliant

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  25. Radhanath Swami is an inspiring role model for everyone who aspires to lead a lifestyle based on the concept of “Simple Living, High Thinking”

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  26. Radhanath maharaj’s determination for untouching the any tiny part of Pride is so amazing.

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  27. The Journey HomeBook is interesting that once started reading this book will surely be read in full in the shortest possible time of the reader.

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  28. The Journey Home Book is a must read for all the people seeking spiritual path.

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  29. Radhanath Swami has made me realize the purpose of life through his lifetime of experiences and journey full of realizations on the pathway back to Godhead. He is really a role model for all spiritualists, us. He is really a God sent personality appeared for welfare of mankind for the urgent need of God-realization and satisfaction of the soul.

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  30. It is very difficult in the current scenario to even attempt to follow ‘Simple living & high thinking’…..But Maharaj through his example (both his & his senior disciples) shows us its possible if we are ready to follow sincerely

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  31. Our Acharyas lead by example and so does Radhanath swami maharaj. They cannot be immitated but followed. So, I am attempting to follow Radhanath Maharaj’s example, but it is difficult. May Maharaj give me the strength and empower me to live my life as he does.

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  32. Wonderful narration. Amazing. It is very hard for me to even imagine!

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  33. Nice Article. Radhanath Swami is so simple and kind hearted.

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  34. Maharaj is simplicity personified

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  35. Ram Mohan Gupta

    Performing some menial service to men of God is of great spiritual value, much greater than just holding high ranking positions in society… Thanks for this statement and the well written article.

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  36. There is so much we can learn and imbibe from Radhanath Maharaj. He is a live example of simple living and high thinking in this world wherein everybody is busy leading a life of so called high living and small thinking.

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  37. In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy it is very difficult to find a person like Radhanath Swami Maharaj who doesn’t have duplicity and very simple at heart.

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  38. Wonderful experiences narrated by Radhanath Swami in his book- The Journey Home

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  39. Radhanath Swami is showing by example if you want to get the love of God you have to be live simple.

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  40. It takes one to know one!
    Because Radhanath Swami is so simple and humble, he can recognize the same qualities in other great souls.

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  41. Radhanath Swami speaks and acts from his heart, very pure and straight forward and yet convincing and not heart breaking at the same time

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  42. “Simplicity kills the duplicity in us and makes us happy” is what we can learn from the great souls like Maharaj. Thanks for sharing.

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  43. simplicity is actually one of the greatest virtue. Mahatma gandhis greatness was his simplicity, there have been lot of demonstrations of simple life including Radhanath Swami which shows how to lead a life yet we fail to realise this in our lives. Let us rediscover these principles in our life.

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  44. HH Radhanath swami maharaj ki jai..
    simplicity reflects from Swami’s every action

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  45. The book has many such inspiring articles.

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  46. Simplicity is that jewel of the Vaisanava which attract Lord Krishna’s kind attention and bestows unlimited mercy and engages the devotees in the loving service of the Lord.

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  47. It is this simplicity of maharaj that touches &nourishes our hearts

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  48. Maharaj’s simplicity attracts one and all.

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  49. It is really difficult to be simple. Radhanath swami has achieved Phd in simplicity.

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