Thought Bite: Eulogy for Swami Veda Bharati

For Swami Veda Bharati, by Randall Krause

In an intuition, I sensed that I’d meet a man who would lead me to my true self. Then I met you, and I knew you were that man. The first time I saw you I loved you. Never before had I experienced feelings like that for anyone. Looking at how grounded you were, how much integrity you had, such vast wisdom you imparted, I didn’t want to leave. But how could I stay? So I made my way home, the whole way craving to return to your feet.

It seemed like forever before I was fortunate to come into your presence again. I traveled to India and met you again there, and deepened my love for you. You imparted your first guidance to me, and I felt the sting and simultaneous sweetness of it. When you came to California the next year, I asked for and received initiation, and became your student.

Swami Veda smilingBeloved teacher, it meant the world to me to learn from you, to listen to you, to serve you. I felt so lucky any time I was in your presence. The learning was constant, as was the fun.

So many years passed in this way. Years that were treasures.

Your always fragile body ever became more fragile. Yet somehow, miraculously, you continued teaching. Teaching and guiding were like the air you breathed, and those who came into your orbit were truly fortunate.

Oh beloved Swamiji, you’ve been in my thoughts and heart every day. You were in my dreams, in my inner-whisperings. Your guidance, teachings, love uplifted me and enabled me to reach beyond my imagined limits and to taste the sweetness of service.

During the last two years, it was painful to see how your body fell to new lows of weakness and ill-health, and at the same time, I was amazed at your ability to keep going in the service of Gurudeva. You were always inspired and inspiring. Your strength kindled within my heart a desire to serve.

Now you’ve sprouted wings of light and have flown from this material world. I mourn the loss of the person I knew as my friend, teacher, and guide. At the same time, I am grateful that I had the great fortune to have a teacher such as you.

Dear guide of light, it is my wish to follow your way, and serve your mission. I pray for strength to do so.

Pranaams and love, Mokshadava


This post was written by Wolfgang Bischoff of the Himalayan Institute Germany:

My dear spiritual family,

Swami Veda.deMy dearest elder spiritual brother, as he addressed himself to me, left his body. His last words to me only some weeks ago were: "You are right. Nachiketas stayed in the house of death only 3 nights and I seem to have been living there for the last 30 years! 2014 was my last year but I told them I refuse to die! Our Master has given me 2 and a half years now to complete my work but like any naughty disciple I am arguing with him. An argument I hope to win again.“ 

Now our Guruji is embracing this great soul in the celestial world and from there both of them will continue to inspire us and to teach us in silence as the tradition is doing it since thousands of years; this teaching never ends, if we learn to become prepared receivers in silence.

Nevertheless my heart is filled with deep sadness and I think of my elder brother with deep love, respect and gratitude. I will share these thoughts with the german community of the Himalayan Institute.

I greet you all with deep love in my heart

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The following article was written some years ago by Saumya, one of Swami Veda's daughters, when he became a swami:

Svaha: On Giving Up My Father

I am not this, consumed by flame;
I am not that, washed in water;
I am not that which drew air,
nor am I that which walked upon the earth.

I am the earth, I am the air and I am the water.
I am the fire.
All that which is impermanent, I leave behind.
Svaha svaha, svaha, it is no more mine.

My father is dead. I watched it happen, as he performed his own funeral service on the banks of the Ganges. I have heard that Sanskrit (Hindu) phrase, svaha, idam na mam: I make this sincere offering: it is no more mine, over and over again, my entire life. It is said with every offering given on the altar, into a consecrated fire or sacred river. In my family, it is said with humor and resignation, over opportunities or items lost. Svaha: our mental shrug: Oh, well, it’s gone. I may as well let it go.

That ceremony transformed my father, my Tata (daddy), into something else: a Swami, beyond definitions of family, gender, religion. He began a journey away from me and mine, and sought a life of service. Swamis were not a mystery to me; I grew up with Baba, a guru who initiated me into our tradition when I was six years old. I felt lucky, even as a kid, to know him. He made a family of everyone who needed one. He made the world magical.

When I was nineteen, my dad, struggling with diabetes and a heart condition, was given a last chance by the doctors: a triple by-pass. This was back in the days when heart surgery was a thing of fear and miracles. In the voice that lulled me to sleep as a child with countless guided relaxations (oh, how I relished being able to make him yell when I was a teenager!) he told me that his life was coming to an end, one way or another. He wished to survive, but if he did, it would not be as it was. It was time. He would begin the process of transition towards Swamihood. My mother would care for him after surgery. They would live together as brother and sister for a time. They would part eventually, husband and wife no longer. Not divorce, he stressed, as though I didn’t know. He would renounce his former life, his family.

Our father was leaving us for God.

It seemed natural that this was happening. When he said that he would need his children’s formal blessing, I was startled, as if he was asking our permission to stay out late. I must have talked about it with my siblings, my friends, but I have no recollection. I don’t remember feeling rejected or abandoned. It was actually kind of exciting, as if he had won The Nobel Prize or something. Tata was ours, but never only ours. We always shared him with so much, his books, his disciples and his mission. Much was shared with us in return.

Watching him chant his own funeral prayers was another thing. His familiar voice rising and falling, rising and falling as he sang the ancient hymns. I remember sitting in the mild mountain sun, catching my brother’s eye, and thinking, our father is dying.

I am grateful for the Swami who rose from that pyre, although it took awhile to sort things out. What do I call him? (settled on “Tata Swami”) How do I introduce myself? I can’t say “I’m his daughter” anymore, can I? Or can I? There were a few awkward years where no-one was sure how to behave, what was acceptable. This was new territory for all of us. I avoided him.

My relationship with Swami Veda Bharati is very different now, but that’s to be expected, I’m not a teenager anymore. I got over my joy of being able to make him raise his voice. Instead I have found pride, solace and inspiration in watching him become. My father had always been a teacher, but a Swami is something more. And he has become more to me than a father. I look forward to the few times a year that I see him, long nights when we sit up and talk. We have an ongoing debate: Are things as they always have been, or does the world really change? We argue but also laugh a lot. He still loves to tell jokes, most of them based on awful and elaborate multi-lingual puns. Through Swami Veda, I have finally gotten to know my dad.

No matter what paths I walk, they are extensions of an ancient tradition. I believe the teachings of the mountain sages, teachings repeated in many traditions. Teachings spoken by priests and shamans and druids, wisdom based on experience of living: Know thyself. Let go of what limits you. Respect others. Swami Veda has brought that to countless people. He has acquired the weighty title of Mahamandaleshwara, a Swami among Swamis, and has been involved in global interfaith and reconciliation work that proves, as he puts it, the human urge towards peace. I may only see him a few times a year, but when I am really in trouble, it’s his phone that rings in the night, where ever he is. When I sit down to meditate, it is his voice in my head…relaaax your shoulders…breathe deeply, slooowly, smoooothly. The echo of the father I let go.

I don’t think it will be so easy to let Swami Veda go, which is ironic. Not today or tomorrow, not in the next six months, but, holy or not, he is going to die, to make that final life change. I have seen it, under the mountain sun. This time, I am afraid. When Baba died, I knew there was no-one who could replace him; but we had Swami Veda. I had Swami Veda. When he is gone, who is left? Who will be there for me? And I find when I ask that question, I have trouble meeting my own eyes; for who is left is looking back at me. You skirt around it in your own way; for me it comes down, bluntly, to selfishness. I want mine, my life, my choices, my freedom. I wanted my father. I want the illusion of owning my life…even if I know it’s an illusion. But I am a child of our tradition; I am my father’s daughter.

The voice in my head has become my own. There is no “one” who will take over, who will be Our Father. Who will be mine. It is exhausting to fight your own truth; I imagine it must be a great relief to finally, totally, just be yourself. I understand why traditions of self-knowledge are not so popular. Revelation can be very disruptive. Compassion is extremely hard work. Surrender takes pain and practice. But our voices are useless if we don’t share them. I grow tired of the bondage of mine.

I know I am not this that walks, breathes, which someday will be washed and burned. I hope that I will have the strength to look at this life I have hoarded so selfishly and be able to someday say, with relief, svaha, it is no more mine. And then live it.

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19 Dec 2021;
07:00PM - 08:00PM
Full Moon Meditation 2020