Abdul Kalam Meets Swami Sivananda Maharaj of Rishikesh

Dr. Abdul Kalam, the former President of India, as a young man, had always wanted to be a pilot: hence, he applied to join the Indian Air Force. The selection board, however, did not shortlist the future president of India. Dejected young Kalam wended his way to Rishikesh, where he met Swami Sivananda of Divine Life society. Kalam recounts this momentous rendezvous with the renown saint, who has changed and is changing many lives in this universe, in his celebrated autobiography, “Wings of Fire” (pg. 19): 

“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. 

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