By bringing out a new edition published in Nepal I am fulfilling the long unfulfilled wish of my father, Thakur Lal Manandhar, to get Long Pilgrimage published in the Indian subcontinent. After his attempts to have it published in India in the seventies failed to materialize, the estate of John Bennett got a paperback edition published by Turnstone Press in 1985. This economically priced edition did go on to fill to some extent the gap that came to persist, but the failure to publish further editions after 1985 only served to increase the demand worldwide. I feel certain that this edition, the first ever to be published in Nepal where the Shivapuri Baba lived for over 40 years and from where he gave out most of his teachings, will go a long way towards satisfying many who have shown deep interest in his teaching which he called the Right Life.
This is a time when we are witnessing a phenomenal rise of materialism and a rapid deterioration of the world in terms of moral order. Yet, ironically enough, at this very moment of time the need for the dissemination of moral and spiritual values too is at its greatest. The Shivapuri Baba's teaching of Right Life is based on the eternal principles of Swadharma which is being passed on to mankind from time immemorial. These principles have now been refreshingly told by a God-realized soul with its emphasis on duty and discipline. This alone to my mind would make his teaching at once unique and outstanding, even though in the present day world there is no dearth of theories or paths in spirituality. The three disciplines as enunciated by the Shivapuri Baba are not only practical but they represent in essence also the most comprehensive teaching as it encompasses all paths or approaches to God-realization, transcending their narrow confines and limitations.
The secret of the Shivapuri Baba's teaching, however, lies in the inherent practicality of the rock-like pillars of his three disciplines, the disciplines of the body, mind and spirit, and in the manner in which he places emphasis on living out these disciplines with an unfailing sense of duty. He laid equal emphasis on true knowledge, founded on realization, making it distinct from knowledge which is merely acquired. Those of us who have been so fortunate as to have actually met him and sat at his feet understand why he spurned all attempts to mistake the knowledge so acquired not founded on realization or experience as real. The vitality of Shivapuri Baba's teaching, however, lies as much in the depth of fundamental values of Right Living as on its wonderful simplicity.
Having personally carried the corrected manuscript back to John Bennett in the summer of 1963 for its first publication in London by Hodder and Stoughton, and after not succeeding to bring out a subsequent edition from Bombay in the seventies, I am now feeling absolutely pleased to be able to bring out for worldwide distribution an edition published in Nepal from where the Shivapuri Baba's teachings first originated.
In this edition, I have made no attempts to change any of the texts of John Bennett and Thakur Lal Manandhar, and the book maintains its full originality. However, I am glad to be able to add a number of interesting pictures of the Shivapuri Baba from the black and white era, most of them taken by Thakur Lal Manandhar himself who has captured the enlightened master in many of his moods. I have also included some of the photographs that I have taken myself in Benares and Nepal while I was learning to be a photographer. Even as an amateur photographer I would get so struck with awe by the radiance and grandeur of his personality that I would sometimes turn a little nervous. I would simply keep on gazing at the brilliant picture on the screen of the reflex camera not knowing when to press the trigger. Such was the power of his presence.
I have to thank Rev. Sugata for allowing me to reproduce a portrait taken by him. Last of all, though by no means the least, I wish to express my gratitude to Ben Bennett and Hero Selwood, son and daughter of John Bennett respectively, for much help and guidance. I would also be failing in my duty if I did not thank them for securing from the estate of John Bennett the permission for me to publish Long Pilgrimage for the first time in Nepal.
WHEN Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, India's beloved President and her most eminent philosopher, visited Nepal in the spring of 1956 for the coronation of King Mahendra, he was expected to go direct to the Royal Guest House which had been specially prepared for him. Instead, he had no sooner alighted from his plane, than he asked to be taken to the retreat of the Shivapuri Baba, then 130 years old. After the usual greetings of civility, the following conversation took place.
S.R. What is your teaching?
S.B. I teach three disciplines—spiritual, moral and physical.
S.R. The whole truth in so few words?
S.B. Yes. S.R. (Turning to his entourage): The whole Truth in so few words!
Later, the Shivapuri Baba speaking of this visit said: "Then he explained my speech to the others for about fifteen minutes in a most wonderful manner. Such a brilliant explanation I have never heard in my life. I myself envied his power of explanation. He is a soldier of the Vedic literature—rare in the world. He has no destructive nature. He has only constructive nature. Human love he has got. He looks down upon nobody, no hatred for anybody.
When he came, he only Namaskaraed me. Before he went, he placed his head upon my feet. Such a thing is most difficult for a man of his position. When I said: I teach three disciplines etc., I saw feelings of shame and horror rise up in his face—shame because for all his scholarship, he had not understood what was at the bottom of life, and horror because after so long living in another belief he feared that he was too old to change his way of life now."
To write a book on the life and teachings of such a man as the Shivapuri Baba, whom I met for the first time when he was already 135 years old, would be an act of unpardonable presumption but for two saving factors. The first is that the Shivapuri Baba himself said that I ought to write about his teachings and saw the account of his life in manuscript before he died in January 1963. The second is that I have been privileged to receive from Mr. Thakur Lal Manandhar, who has been his devotee for nearly thirty years, copies of notes, made over this long period, of talks with the Master. Mr. Manandhar has kindly consented to let his name be joined with mine on the title page of this hook.
I must, however, hasten to make it clear that the text remains my responsibility. The Shivapuri Baba told me to set out his teaching so that it would be understood as easily by Europeans as by Indians. That meant a careful adaptation of terminology to avoid excessive use of the technical terms of Hindu philosophy as they occur in the Bhagavad Gita. I submitted the manuscript to Mr. Manandhar, and he kindly made corrections wherever he felt that 1 was departing seriously from the intention of the Shivapuri Baba. Nevertheless, much must remain as heard through my ears and understood with my, obstinately Western, heart and mind.
The teaching of a man like the Shivapuri Baba does not take the form of a fixed doctrine, the same for all conditions of man and intended to remain for ever unchanged. As he himself points out in one of the talks recorded in this book, the vitality of any teaching depends upon the combination of an unchanging foundation of Truth and a constantly varying superstructure of ideas and methods. The foundation is Right Living, Swadharma, which has always been, and always will be, demanded of man, as a condition of his welfare in this life and beyond. The Shivapuri Baba does not leave the notion of Right Living in such general terms as to be applicable to almost any doctrine or code. He connects it specifically with the three disciplines of body, mind and spirit. The basic requirements of the th
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