Swami Dharmamegha Aranya

The revered Swami Dharmamegha Aranya was engaged in spiritual pursuit since his childhood. He was born  on 13 April, 1892 (the day of the Chaitra Sankranti according to the Bengali calendar). It was the same year in which his revered guru the renowned Samkhya-yogacharya of the present age, Swami Hariharananda Aranya left his home to become a wandering ascetic. Swami Dharmamegha Aranya was quiet, gentle and contemplative since childhood and Swami Hariharananda Aranya was his spiritual, moral and intellectual ideal.

As a student he used to spend his long summer and autumn vacations at Kapil Ashram at Triveni. There he sat at the feet of his guru as a young postulant and studied the Patanjala Yogadarshana with intense  concentration and devotion. The notes which he took down in Bengali during the course of his study of the Patanjala Yogasutra were later published from Kapil Math by Acharya Swamiji as a book entitled Yogasopana. Those who were interested in studying the Patanjala Yogadarshana in Bengali  would greatly benefit if they first read the Yogasopana because it is a comprehensive analysis of the Yogasutra and will enable them to make an entry into the fundamental principles of the Yogadarshana. Recently, a Hindi translation of Yogasopana has also been  published.

Preparing himself for the monistic life in this manner, Swamiji left his home in 1911 at the age of nineteen. He became a committed disciple of Swami Hariharananda Aranya, accepted the life of a monk and was named Dharmamegha by his guru.

Swami Dharmamegha Aranya as a young monk

Initially he visited different parts of the country as a wandering ascetic, and then for many years he stayed in Kapil Ashram, the lonely monistic retreat in Kurseong in the Himalayas, where he was engaged in the pursuit of his spiritual goal in total isolation. Later, after the passing away of Acharya Swamiji, he was cloistered in the Kapil Cave  of the monastery at Madhupur and remained immersed in the practice of Samkhya-yoga till the end. His towering, calm and contemplative personality and his quiet, detached and spiritual way of life reminded the visitors of the well-known lines of the Gita describing the true yogin:

निर्मानमोहा जितसङ्गदोषा अध्यात्मनित्या विनिवृत्तकामाः ।
द्वन्द्वैर्विमुक्ताः सुखदुःखसंज्ञैर्-गच्छन्त्यमूढाः पदमव्ययं तत् ॥ १५-५॥
“Without pride and delusion, conquering the vice of attachment, dwelling constantly in the Self, purified of desire, free from pleasure and pain, they tread undeluded, that indestructible path” (15/5)

His goal was to realize the principles of Samkhya-yoga system as laid down by Acharya Swamiji in his own life and publish Acharya Swamiji’s writings in a clear and accurate form for the benefit of those who wished to pursue the path of salvation. He fully endorsed the statement of the Buddha that teaching  the dharma was the greatest service to mankind. In this context he often quoted Acharya Swamiji’s statement that if a scientist discovered a life-saving drug  and did not make  it available for the use of common humanity, then that drug would be of no benefit to the world. On the other hand, if he made the same drug available to people, it would benefit the world immensely. In the same way, if  the sage who has attained  spiritual peace, guided the suffering  humanity towards the path of peace, he would benefit the world greatly.

Acharya Swami Dharmamegha Aranya

Throughout the long period of his life as a monk, he extended this service to people by giving spiritual instruction directly or through correspondence. His letters in reply to the queries of his disciples, eager for spiritual knowledge, were initially compiled and published with an introduction by Acharya Swamiji from the Kapil Math as Shanti Lipi (Letters of Peace). Later many more  of his letters were added in the expanded and revised third editions of Shanti Lipi. Recently the english and hindi translations of Shanti Lipi have also been published. These two books, namely Yogasopana and Shanti Lipi were published from Kapil Math, at the initiative of Acharya Swamiji. Dharmamegha Swamiji  himself was totally detached about his own writings. Acharya Swamiji, who was himself,  a great sage and scholar, never refrained from giving due credit to his worthy disciple. The sages of the Upanishads have described this kind of a wonderful and sweet relationship between the learned master  and the outstanding disciple as a rare phenomenon (Kathopanishad 1/2/7). Cloistered within the cave Swamiji continued to give spiritual instructions from  the platform of the Kapil Temple till the very end  of his life to the disciples assembled on the Acharya Divas as a service  to the people in search of salvation. Moreover, he also gave  instructions individually to his followers, eager for spiritual knowledge. All his speeches and instructions recorded on tape and taken down in the form of notes by his devoted followers have been compiled to form  the text of “So Have We Heard”.

Acharya Swami Dharmamegha Aranya standing in front of the samadhi of his Guru Samkhya-yogacharya Swami Hariharananda Aranya

Swamiji was the living embodiment of the ideal of Samkhya-yoga. Those who had the good fortune  of seeing him personally or listening  to his invaluable discourses were blessed by his association and inspired to walk on the path of salvation. His serene, detached and cheerful presence exemplified for his followers the qualities of the sthitaprajna (stable in mind) as described in the Gita:

प्रजहाति यदा कामान्सर्वान्पार्थ मनोगतान् ।
आत्मन्येवात्मना तुष्टः स्थितप्रज्ञस्तदोच्यते ॥ २-५५॥
One who relinquishes all desires of the heart and is perfectly contented within the Self is called stable in mind (2/55).

Swami Dharmamegha Aranya carried his Guru’s ideals, if one may say so, a step further. Throughout his long life after passing away of the Acharya he lived as the Head of Kapil Math, a totally secluded life in the innermost sanctum of the monastery.  What he did not leave in writing was for everyone to see – his emulation of the Acharya’s teachings to the letter. He was the living embodiment of the spiritual truths as preached by the ancient Rishis.

The prime aim of Swami Dharmamegha Aranya was dissemination of the words of his Guru. He supervised the publication of the Acharya’s writings in English and Hindi to make available the spiritual treasure  to seekers who do not speak Sanskrit and Bengali. He was himself ever available for the smallest queries from any seeker for spiritual advice. The rest of the time he spent in quiet seclusion in his own spiritual practices.

Swami Dharmamegha Aranya left his mortal frame on the 5th Kartik, 1392 (bengali calendar) or 20th October, 1985 (gregorian calendar) in the morning of the Mahanavami of Durga Puja.

… taken from the books “So Have We Heard” by Swami Dharmamegha Aranya and “Epistles of a Samkhya yogin” by Swami Dharmamegha Aranya



Excerpt from “Remembering My Guru is a source of eternal joy”  by Adinath Chatterjee

… Some visitors to Kapil Math on seeing Swamiji (Swami Dharmamegha Aranya) for the first time reportedly exclaimed, ‘But he is a Buddhist!’ This did not surprise me, for looking  at his photographs taken at different periods of his long monistic life one could clearly discern his gradual transformation from a practising Samkhya-yogin to a living Buddha. And to hear him speak of Lord Buddha was an unforgettable experience. His face would light up, eyes grow moist, voice get choked while narrating simple things like Asoka’s inscription (I quote from memory) – hide jato bhagavan Buddho lumbine game (Lord Buddha  was born here in the village of Lumbini), or Buddha’s reactions on the four momentous encounters when he ventured in the streets of the capital on the royal chariot. We felt as though he was recalling these from his living memory. Similar transformations would take place whenever he spoke of his revered guru, which he  very frequently did. His emotive words, like ‘He cleared the jungle to build this royal road for us. Our job is only to traverse it. Can we not do it?’ or, ‘On occasions like this when we pay our homage to him, chanting hymns or burning incense in his name, he is verily present in our remembrance’, must be still echoing in the ears of many of us.

One aspect of Swamiji which impressed me greatly was his lucid mind, free of all pre-conceived notions and prejudices. He was always eager to hear of the latest developments in the frontiers of science, whether in cosmology or in biological sciences, not the mere details but the philosophical implications of these findings. Chancing on a small newspaper item (which someone had sent him) featuring a scientist’s view that consciousness is the root cause of the universe, Swamiji asked me to write to Prof. George Wald of Harvard University. This led to a useful exchange of letters and a memorable  one-day meeting  with the Nobel laureate, a part of which has gone into Swamiji’s pithy article, ‘External reality – Its Causes’ in the Epistles of a Samkhya-yogin. …

… Swamiji was a person with so few personal wants that I would sometimes fret for being unable to be of any service to him. His soft spoken words of assurance still ring in my heart: ‘By serving the Math (monastery) you are serving me’. He possibly knew that I could be useful  in respect of the publications of Math and took pains to teach me how to prepare a press copy, check and correct proofs etc. He was a perfectionist in regard to the quality of Kapil Math publications. He presented me two copies of one of the first publications  which I had helped to bring out. I went back with the request to have the gift sanctified by his own handwriting. He did it immediately. As I was taking leave, he said with a childlike twinkle in his eyes: ‘See what I have written’, On the title page I found inscribed, ‘To a very dear A-‘ possibly the greatest reward I have ever had in life….

(from “So have we heard”)