Manas Putra, the Mind Born
When I first went to Munger I was given the duty to read all the scriptures. Each day, armed with Puranas, Upanishads, Vedas, Yoga Samhitas, Brahma Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita, sitting in the peaceful sanctity of Pujya Gurudev’s kutir, I began devouring them all. It was at that time that I discovered the most important practice of tattwa shuddhi in the Devi Bhagavat Purana.
Each evening, Sri Swamiji would as me what I had read and, from a layperson’s point of view, I used to tell him what had fired my imagination. One day I came across the term ‘manas putra’ and I became curious as I had never before even conceived the idea that anyone could be born through the power of the mind.
Yet the Puranas and all scriptural texts refer to this term. In fact, the entire lineage of rishis who we revere as our ancestors are the manas putras of Brahma. The Bhagvatam lists them as the jnana rishis, Sanat, Sanandan, Sanatan and Sanat Kumar, known as Sanakadi, and the bhakta rishi, Narada. Then it goes on to list the ten highly evolved maharishis, Marichi, Atri, Angira, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, Bhrigu, Vasishtha, Daksha and Narada. The Brahma Vaivarta Purana lists more names and goes on to say that Brahma mentally conceived Swayambhu Manu and Sataroopa.
Not being entirely convinced that it was possible to create a being through the mind, that evening I raised the question to Gurudev. What he said gave me faith, conviction and belief in the immense and miraculous powers of the Divine.
He said, “I too have a manas putra. His name is Niranjan. At present he is in America. He is my mind-conceived child. His parents, Dharmashakti and Satyabrat who were childless, and also told by doctors that they could never have a child, asked me to bless them with a child. I infused divine energy in them and a month later, Dharmashakti, who had even crossed the child-bearing age, had conceived.”
I asked Sri Swamiji, “How does that make him your manas putra? Many sadhus and saints bless childless couples. Many even go to teerthas and take vows, and they are blessed with a child. So what is the difference between a manas putra and a child born with the blessings of a saint?”
Sri Swamiji said, “The difference is that I not only blessed them to have a child, but I also invoked a special divine soul to enter that new life that was being nurtured. With my mental powers, and the mantras which I had perfected, I invited a divine soul of my choice to take birth through them. Even before he was conceived I had named him Niranjan and declared that he would be my successor. He is born with a divine mandate for a divine purpose. Niranjan and I are two bodies with one soul!”
In other words, there is a significant difference between a manas putra and one born out of the blessings of a saint. Yes, definitely, the child born with blessings of a saintly person will be more special than others, but a manas putra is not just special, but one who is chosen or selected from the bank of evolved or higher souls.
It is only an evolved soul who can realize at the tender age of four that he is born for a life of renunciation and opt for sannyasa, as Swami Niranjan did. It is only an evolved soul who can offer himself for the service of his guru at an age when other children are playing with toys, as Swami Niranjan did. It is only an evolved soul who can live the life of discipline which sannyasa entails. It is only an evolved soul who, from a very young age, can reject the luxuries and comforts of family life and live in self-imposed austerity, as Swami Niranjan did.
Manas putras, children of mahat, are a shining example of our own higher nature. They are born of the fire of consciousness, chidagni kund sambhuta, to fulfil a divine mandate, deva karya samudhyata. They are more evolved than us, and through their words, actions and deeds show and inspire us how we ourselves should aspire to be. They come to help mankind and accelerate the evolution of human beings. This they can accomplish by their mere presence which is elevating and uplifting. Just as a tuned musical instrument can cause a similar response in other musical instruments in the same room no matter how untuned they may be, in the same way the vibrations of a manas putra can cause the essence of mahat in us to vibrate or resonate in sympathy.
In fact, rather than mind born, I prefer to interpret the term manas putra as ‘Child of God’.
After all, when we say that a manas putra is born out of the three powers of God, iccha shakti or divine will, kriya shakti or divine power, and jnana shakti or divine knowledge, we have to accept that this is no ordinary birth. It is the birth of divinity in human form ordained by God to exhibit his immense love and compassion for his creation.
A few years later, on a trip to America with Sri Swamiji, I had the good fortune to meet Swami Niranjan for the first time in Los Angeles. At that time he must have just crossed his teens, but the immense gravity and maturity in his demeanour was that of a person much beyond his years. Although playful and childlike, naughty to the hilt, the seriousness with which he approached his duties and responsibilities was indeed worth emulating.
Later, Sri Swamiji recalled him to Munger to take over the reins of the Bihar School of Yoga, and all of us sannyasins had a new young boss. Many who were used to Swamiji didn’t quite know what to expect. But I knew even then, as I know now, that he was the perfect choice that Sri Swamiji had made, for his young shoulders were resolute and strong enough to take on the immense tasks which had been ordained for him.
In fact, Sri Swamiji himself once said, “Niranjan epitomizes perfection. He is the exact opposite of me and it would not be wrong to say that all my qualities find their culmination in him. Niranjan stands taller than me.” The ease and aplomb with which he took over the burden from his guru and assured him of total dedication, sincerity and selflessness in carrying out his duties, and always remained true to his words, itself showed his high calibre.
The real role of Sri Swamiji’s manas putra, Swami Niranjan, however, is now unfolding before us after the sacred event of Gurudev’s mahasamadhi. One can easily say that the fifty years spent with his beloved guru were in preparation for this day. The perfect being that Sri Swamiji invoked and infused mental prana into has been chiselled with love and care by Gurudev into one who can easily step into the footsteps of his guru. Today we can see before our very own eyes the vision which Swami Satyananda gave shape to fifty years ago on the banks of the Ganga, at Gangotri.
That vision was for a divine purpose. It was not simply that Sri Swamiji wanted or needed a successor. No, not at all. If he needed a successor he could have groomed one of the many that came to him. It was not at all difficult for him to do that, given his natural ability to bring out the best in everyone.
Rather, we should know that it was a divine mandate that motivated Sri Swamiji to use his siddhis to invoke an elevated soul through the parents of Swami Niranjan. Swami Satyananda’s entire life was not the expression of his own wish or will as is the case with most people. He always lived his life according to the divine will and whatever he did in his life, including the invocation of Swami Niranjan’s atma, was part and parcel of that divine mandate. This was possible for him because he was selfless to the core, thus becoming the perfect medium for that to happen. In fact, Swami Satyananda has shown that the stories of mind born sons in the scriptures are not a myth. And one realizes that even today this can happen, for we have a living example of such a case.
Swami Satyananda had three siddhis which he received after intense sadhana in the Himalayas during his parivrajaka days. He has sometimes even spoken about this in his satsangs. The first was kaya kalpa or total rejuvenation of the body, to become young again. The second was avahan or invoking a soul of his choice. The third was par kaya pravesh, to enter another’s body, just like Adi Guru Sankaracharya. He did not feel comfortable with the siddhi of entering another’s body nor did he have any use for it, so he cremated that siddhi in the Himalayas itself.
He would often say that he had invoked a soul in Bholenath, his constant companion during panchagni, and we were all witness to that. Bholenath’s awareness was not that of a dog. In Bholenath was the soul of a close disciple whom Sri Swamiji had called to be with him during this most important sadhana, panchagni. He spoke about it openly and it is recorded in Bhakti Yoga Sagar.