(Last Updated on : 05/09/2009)
One of the influencial spriritual leaders of India, Swami Nigamananda (1879-1935) is the founder of Saraswat Math in Jorhat
and Nilachal Saraswat Sangha in Orissa
. In the year 1879, Paramahansa Shri Shri Nigamananda Saraswati Deva was born at Qutabpur in Nadia district (now in Bangladesh)to a morally excellent bramhin couple. Her was named 'Nalinikanta' by His father Bhuban Mohan Bhattacharya and mother Yogendra Mohini. From His boyhood, for his extraordinary fearlessness, intelligence and forthrightness, Nalinikanta attracted admiration of the people.
While Nalinikanta was pursuing his primary education in his maternal uncle's village Radhakantapur, His mother breathed her last immaturely. As he was very much devoted to his mother her death deeply shocked Nalinikanta. He learnt that just before she breathed her last, his mother did hand him over to the "Cosmic Mother" - Jaganmata. To appear before him, He single-heartedly prayed to the 'Jaganmata'. In the Bhattacharya household, the death of Yogendramohini Devi created a void.
Being the eldest son in the family, Nalinikanta had to get married soon to bring a daughter-in-law to look after the household. Hence, Nalinikanta was married to an exceedingly beautiful and intelligent girl named Sudhansubala Devi at the early age of seventeen. After His marriage, Nalinikanta went to study at the Dacca School of Survey and thenceforward took up jobs at several places to earn his sustenance. Nalinikanta, since childhood had a thoughtful inclination.
While serving as the supervisor of the Narayanapur estate (Zamindari) Nalinikanta, in one night suddenly saw the shadowy image of Sudhansubala Devi standing at the table, glowering and silent while she was supposed to be away at Qutabpur at that time. He went to Qutabpur to enquire and came to know that Sudhansubala Devi had expired just an hour before he saw her image at Narayanapur. This incident further drew him inwards. Nalinikanta came to the conclusion that death is the ultimate end of an individual. He started believing that there must be 'life' after 'death'.
To know all about the elusive phenomena of life and death, Nalinikanta became desperate. These began to worry him all the time. This inquiry took him in Chennai
to the Theosophical Society at Adyar. He ascertained all the hypotheses and exercises that Theosophy could offer and through a medium, was able to talk to Sudhansu Devi. But, Nalinikanta could not see her physically. With the experience, He was not satisfied at all. He came to know by a discussion with the members of the Society that the knowledge about the phenomena of 'life and death' was the perquisite of the Hindu Yogis. He dispensed with no time in looking for a true Yogi or Sadhu who could fulfill his desire to meet his dead wife as well as bring satisfaction to his seeking mind.
Thakur Nigamananda, under the guidance of four great preceptors like Bama Kshepa, Satchidananda Saraswati, Nanakpanthi Sumerudas and Gouri Mata respectively after undergoing the various aspects of the 'Sadhana' viz. 'Tantra', 'Jnana', 'Yoga' and 'Prema' came to realize the importance of a Guru in all the spheres of 'Sadhana'.
Nalinikanta came across Swami Purnananda, a highly educated renunciate who explained to him that 'all female beings are merely a partial manifestation of the 'Mahamaya' or the 'Cosmic Mother', therefore, it was extremely unwise and ridiculous on his part to run after an insignificant part (his wife) ignoring the whole (the Cosmic Mother)'. Elicited by an overwhelming desire to know his 'self', Nalinikanta tried guru Bamakshepa's advice. Bamakshepa advised him to attain the knowledge of 'Advaita' from a Vedantic guru. At the holy place of 'Pushkar' in the state of Rajasthan
, India, He became a disciple of guru Srimad Swami Satchidananda Saraswati. He instantaneously realized that Swami Satchidananda Saraswati was the sadhu one who gave him the 'Tara' mantra in his dream. Nalinikanta was initiated by the swami into renunciation and according to the principle changed his name to 'Nigamananda'.
Swami Nigamananda went to attain the direct experience of this vedic truths, on the advice of guru Satchidanda, through yoga
. Swami Nigamananda with much difficulty and a sustained effort was able to find his yogi guru. He met his yogi guru, Sumeru Dashji, in the dense and unprocurable forests near the holy place of 'Parasuram' (in the north-eastern India) under striking considerations. Under the masterful guidance of yogiraj Sumeru Dashji, after finishing 'yoga sadhana' (practice of yoga) he attained the state of 'Nirbikalpa Samadhi' that is 'non-dual existence/complete identification with the Cosmic Soul or the Parambramha', at once imbuing the universe and exceeding it. He came back with the actualization from that blissful state that he is the 'universal guru' i.e. the 'supreme soul'. Swami Nigamananda had begun his spiritual bespeak with the basic question, "Who am I ?" and with the accomplishment of 'Nirbikalpa Samadhi' he experienced that 'he' is the universal guru.
During the 1907 Kumbha Mela
, the jnaniguru of Nalinikanta Swami Satchidananda Deva, under the augurs of the then Shankaracharya
of Sringery Math, bestowed the title of 'paramahansa' on him in the presence of leading sadhus and renunciates. He had searched and honed tantra, jnana, yoga and prema/bhav, all the four original ways imagined in Sanatana Dharma (ever new/eternal, and universal spiritual method based on Vedic knowledge) for the acquirement of the highest spiritual goal and this was the uniqueness about Nigamananda's spiritual accomplishment. In the prevailing atmosphere of confusion in ideals and spirituality among his countrymen, he wanted them to rediscover the merits of sanatana dharma. He authored five books - 'Bramhacharya Sadhana', 'Yogiguru', 'Tantrikguru', 'Jnaniguru' and 'Premikaguru'. On the path of spirituality, these books are invaluable for any seeker. A path breaking and reformist periodical has been edited and published by Him that is 'Arya Darpana'.
Before himself, he set three objectives, with a view to establish universal brotherhood namely, (i) propagation of 'sanatana dharma', (ii) dissemination of 'sat siksha' (right type of education that enables development of integrated personality conducive for spiritual development), and (iii) service to all living beings deeming it as service rendered to the Supreme Being. To Him a person who have attained 'self knowledge' is the right one to serve mankind in the right manner. He ordered His devotees - 'to walk together on the path of spirituality forming Sanghas' (spiritual associations), 'to lead Adarsha Grihastha Jeevan' (life of an ideal householder), and 'to have Bhava Binimaya' (commune with each other for mutual exchange of spiritual ideas and experiences).
These would empower them to attain the above mentioned objectives and lead a satisfied life. The tradition of "Vakta Sammilani" (the annual congregation of devotees and spiritually minded people, for the close interaction between the two types of seekers - the household devotees and the renunciates) was instituted by Him. his methodological as well as ideological slogan were - " Shankarer Mata" (the Vedantic doctrine of the 8th century spiritual reformist Sri Sri Adi Shankaracharya that Bramha - the Supreme Soul and the individual soul is 'one' and the same, and it is the ultimate truth to be realized by men), and "Gauranger Patha" (the path of devotion adopted by Sri Chaitanya Deva, the fourteenth century avatara of devotion, as the royal road to the spiritual destination i.e. God).
At Kokilamukh Math, Swami Nigamananda installed 'Jagat Guru's Ashan. In the year 1915, Thakur established the first "Sarbabhouma Bhakta Sammilani" at Kokilamukh Math. He instituted a Math (Assam Bangiya Saraswat Math) at Kokilamukh in Assam and five Ashrams in five divisions of undivided Bengal:
Purba Bangala Saraswat Ashram at Moinamati, Comilla, Bangala Desh now at Tripura.
Madhya Bangala Saraswat Ashram at Kalni, Dacca, Bangala Desh, (Now Purbasthali Dt-Burdwan, W.Bengal.
Uttar Bangala Saraswat Ashram at Bogra.
Pachima Bangala Saraswat Ashram at Kharkusama, Midnapore.
li>Dakhina Bangala Saraswat Ashram at Halishar, 24 Paragans.
On November 29, 1935 in Kolkata
, Thakura Sri Sri Nigamananda Deva attained 'mahasamadhi' (eternal union with the Supreme Soul) through yoga kriya (yogic techniques) and left his somatic body.
Rightly, his followers idealized Him as their worshiped and beloved 'thakura' and at the same time, revered Him as their 'Guru' (the supreme preceptor) and 'Ishta' (the personal God).