He always knew he was 'Special'; He was never like the other kids in his modest, traditional Mauritian neighbourhood. While some children played with their store bought toys, Swami Vishwananda was playing at his family alter, making offerings and having prayer ceremonies and performing rituals. Everyone thought he was odd, but no one would ever guess the extent of his greatness.
I had the rare pleasure of interviewing the Swami on his recent visit to KZN. Invited to the 'Darshan' (an opportunity to see or an occasion of seeing a holy person or the image of a deity) in Stanger Town Hall, I really did not know what to expect so I brought along the family.
The Stanger community came out in droves as the town hall filled with devotees and after a long wait, he finally arrived. The room fell silent and everyone could feel the Guruji's intense energy. After a short lecture, focusing on the divine love and the importance of spreading the love to each and every individual, it was time for the blessing.
We all lined up in a long queue and proceeded to kneel in front of this great Man. It was love at first sight and even though it was hard to hold His gaze I drowned a million times in the endless black pools of divine love.
It is hard to describe this sort of pure worshiping emotion for a Westerner. Our Christian based education does not allow for such frivolities and yet it happened to me, pure and simple, the waves of love swept through me like a tsunami and there was just no stopping this divine torrent.
Swami Vishwananda is the founder of Bhakti Marga International, which embraces both Hindu and Christian elements. The community orientated itself after the teachings of Holy Scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita, the Bible and other timeless teachings of various Sages and Saints.
Speaking to me exclusively at The Shanta-Narasimha Temple in Stanger, Swami Vishwananda said, "Through the ages many teachers, many Saints and Sages have lived. Their message was in its essence always the same, yet wrapped in different words, languages and traditions."
"What we lack in this world are not the teachings on God realisation; what we lack is people's will to really go within and put the teachings into practice. Especially in today's world, there exist a lot of distractions that lead to 'outer attachments' that are finite and cause suffering again and again when lost."
"People should become aware of the 'inner attachments' that are eternal and cause no suffering. God is always there - like the sun shining through a window. It is up to us to draw the curtains and open the window."
As Swami Vishwananda embraces all religions and cultures, over the years the two traditions of East and West found a harmonious balance. Swami's natural ease in connecting elements from western tradition with Hindu spirituality, gives people access to a very personal experience with the Divine, regardless of culture, gender or age. Now it has become very normal for people around him to celebrate the Divine in a multi-dimensional fashion, appreciating the richness of our collective spiritual heritages.
"We are all brothers and sisters and come from the same God. Our true identity, hidden behind our emotions and thoughts of daily life, is our soul, our own true Self. To achieve outer unity with all our brothers and sisters, we have to achieve unity within, between body, mind and soul. We have to accept and love ourselves the way we are now, with our physical body, emotions and thoughts and at the same time strive for the Soul. Mankind needs to remember that all people come from the same source and all will go back to the same source." Concluded Swami Vishwananda.