Swami Maheshananda was the spiritual director and chairman of Kaivalyadhama, Lonavala.
As a spiritual teacher Swamiji was rarely inclined to speak of his life prior to taking sannyas. “That is all burned up” was the best reply many of us received in answer to questions about his past.
So what do we know?
He arrived at Lonavala as a young student in the 1970s, already carrying with him a deep connection with Kaivalyadhama having grown up in the orbit of both Swami Digambarji’s ashram at Rajkot and Paramahamsa Madhavdasji in Malsar.
Through the 1980s he worked as a researcher in the institute’s Philosophico-Literary Department. After Swami Digambarji took mahasamādhi in 1990 he became the spiritual director and chairman of Kaivalyadhama, and continued to serve in these roles for three decades.
During these years he travelled widely within India and overseas, teaching in Europe, South America and East Asia. Yet his home was always Kaivalyadhama, and here he continued to practice and share the teaching of Kriya Yoga – the morning and evening puja and fire ceremony handed down by his guru.
His surroundings were simple and minimal. One would find him in the kuti, an open-sided hut surrounded by birds and flowering trees, sitting cross-legged on a wooden table, facing the tall open archway.
Swamiji never sought to be a guru or to attract large numbers of disciples, nor would he willingly accept a touch of the feet. He simply offered his wisdom, to anyone willing to sit quietly with him and listen.
He spoke sometimes with the gentle good humour of a fond grandfather, at others with the piercing honesty of a coach. He taught with great compassion, with humour and with kindness, saying: why be a carving knife when you can be a butter knife?
Swamiji took mahasamādhi on June 28th 2021.
Throughout his life he paid great respect to the lineage of yogis who came before him – Swami Digambarji, preceded by Swami Kuvalayananda (founder of Kaivalyadhama) and his guru before him, Paramahamsa Madhavdasji.
This lineage inspired his practices, his philosophies, his approach to teaching. And it inspired him to begin the haiku that opens this page – a poem for which Swamiji never found the final line.
Angelika was a constant presence at the kuti. German by birth, she arrived at Kaivalyadhama in the early 1990’s for a short stay while waiting for the departure of a container ship for the next leg of her travels. She found instead her lifelong home.
She was a central part of the kuti’s family feeling: she could be found sharing photos with those who visited frequently, organising Swamiji’s travel plans, guiding first time visitors through kuti etiquette, and giving the occasional covert tarot reading as we left on our travels.
For most of her life at Kaivalyadhama she led the morning practice of fire ceremony, Swamiji sitting to her left sometimes adjusting the flames with a judicious spoon of ghee. Over the years she taught many students this ancient ritual, and it is her voice that can be heard on many of the recordings of mantras collected on this site.
Angelika lived at Kaivalyadhama in a simple cottage near the kuti until her death in November 2020.