Abdul Kalam meets Swami Sivananda

Tree of Knowledge

Dr Abdul Kalam, the former President of India is considered a youth icon in India. He always says, “You have to dream before your dreams can come true.” That’s very true, you first have to dream before it can come true, but not all dreams come true, at least not the way you want it to.

Take the case of Abdul Kalam himself. Young Abdul Kalam dreamt of flying in the sky, like a free bird. He wanted to join the Indian Air Force and become a pilot. After finishing his education, he applied to become a pilot in the IAF, he got an interview call and Kalam gladly attended the selection process at Dehra Dun. Unfortunately, he was not selected and young Kalam was heartbroken to say the least. Deeply disappointed, Kalam trekked down to nearby Rishikesh where he met Swami Sivananda.

Kalam considers this meeting to be one of the most important events in his life. Here’s how Dr Kalam recounts this meeting with Swami Sivananda in his autobiography:

I bathed in the Ganga and revelled in the purity of its water. Then I walked to the Sivananda Ashram situated a little way up the hill. I could feel intense vibrations when I entered. I saw a large number of sadhus seated all around in a state of trance. I had read that sadhus were psychic people – people who know things intuitively and, in my dejected mood, I sought answers to the doubts that troubled me.

I met Swami Sivananda – a man who looked like a Buddha, wearing a snow white dhoti and wooden slippers. He had an olive complexion and black, piercing eyes. I was struck by his irresistible, almost child-like smile and gracious manner. I introduced myself to Swamiji. My Muslim name aroused no reaction in him. Before I could speak any further, he inquired about the source of my sorrow. He offered no explanation of how he knew that I was sad and I did not ask.

I told him about my unsuccessful attempt to join the Indian Air Force and my long cherished desire to fly. He smiled, washing away all my anxiety almost instantly. Then he said in a feeble, but very deep voice:

‘Desire, when it stems from the heart and spirit, when it is pure and intense, possesses awesome electromagnetic energy. This energy is released into the ether each night, as the mind falls into the sleep state. Each morning it returns to the conscious state reinforced with the cosmic currents. That which has been imaged will surely and certainly be manifested. You can rely, young man, upon this ageless promise as surely as you can rely upon the eternally unbroken promise of sunrise… and of Spring.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. How true! Here was the teacher to show the way to a student who had nearly gone astray!

‘Accept your destiny and go ahead with your life. You are not destined to become an Air Force pilot. What you are destined to become is not revealed now but it is predetermined. Forget this failure, as it was essential to lead you to your destined path. Search, instead, for the true purpose of your existence. Become one with yourself, my son! Surrender yourself to the wish of God,” Swamiji said.

After this, Dr Kalam joined the Directorate of Technical Develpment and Production as a ‘Senior Scientific Assistant’. He later worked with prestigious organisations like the DRDO and ISRO. He may not have had the opportunity to steer an aircraft and fly freely in the sky, but he was to steer the strategic Indian space program and missile program. He went on to become the eleventh President of India, it’s all history now.

Coming to Swami Sivananda… personally, I have read Sivananda’s books and they have influenced my attitude to a great extent, especially, his book ‘Thought Power’. I am a fan of Sivananda’s simple, uncomplicated and not so scholarly style of writing. Swami Sivananda has written 296 books in all covering subjects like spirituality, yoga, philosophy, etc. You’ll find so many repetitions in his book, but all for good purpose. Some of his books are available online and can be downloaded for free.

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